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Senate Subcommittee Slashes NASA Budget Request, Commercial Crew Funding

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
June 10, 2015

Capitol Building
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved an $18.3 billion budget for NASA, which is below the $18.529 billion requested by the Obama Administration and approved by the House of Representatives.

The measure provides $900 million for the commercial crew budget. The Administration requested $1.244 billion; the House budget would provide $1 billion.

A summary provided by the subcommittee follows:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – The bill funds NASA at $18.3 billion, a $279 million increase over FY2015, to support the human and robotic exploration of space, fund science missions that enhance the understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe, and support fundamental aeronautics research. This includes:

  • $1.9 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), $200 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $544 million above the request. The SLS is the nation’s launch vehicle which will enable humans to explore space beyond our current capabilities. The funding maintains the current schedule for the first launch of SLS, and also provides critical funding for upper stage engine work for future crewed missions.
  • $1.2 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft, the same as the FY2015 enacted level and $104 million above the request. Orion is NASA’s crewed vehicle that is being designed to be able to take astronauts to destinations farther than ever before, including Mars.
  • $5.3 billion for Science, $50 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $6.4 million above the request. This funding encompasses missions from the Earth, to the Moon, throughout the Solar system, and the far reaches of the universe.
  • $2.5 billion for International Space Station (ISS) Crew and Cargo, an increase of $170 million over the comparable amount funded in FY2015. Within these funds, $900 million is included for ISS crew capabilities, $100 million over the FY2015 enacted level, to continue development of privately-owned crewed vehicles. Once developed and fully tested, these vehicles will help end the United States’ reliance on Russia for transporting American astronauts to
    and from the ISS.
  • $600 million for Space Technology, $4 million above the FY2015 enacted level. Funding is included to advance projects that are early in development that will eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration