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Senate Appropriators Boost NASA’s Budget by $1.25 Billion

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
September 26, 2019
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Senate Appropriations Committee PR) – The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the FY2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act, which makes investments to support law enforcement, economic prosperity, scientific research, space exploration, and other national priorities.

The $70.833 billion measure is $6.715 billion above the FY2019 enacted level and funds the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and related agencies. 

In addition to funding the 2020 Decennial Census, the Senate CJS bill invests in federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement grants, space exploration, basic science research, economic development programs, trade enforcement, ocean observations, and weather forecasting.  It was approved 31-0.

“This bipartisan legislation supports critical priorities, as it provides funding to ensure our nation remains a world leader in space exploration and scientific research, while also funding programs that protect national security interests and boost economic development,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).  “I am grateful to Senator Moran and Senator Shaheen for their effort to successfully move this robust bill.”

“This bill is fiscally responsible and prioritizes important federal programs that support economic development, law enforcement, and scientific innovation,” said U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. 

“I’m especially pleased that this bill accelerates the goal of returning American astronauts to the moon and cements America’s leadership in space exploration.  Ranking Member Shaheen and I have worked in a bipartisan manner to craft a strong bill that enables numerous agencies within our jurisdiction to accomplish their missions, keep communities safe, and address the needs of our nation.”

Bill Highlights

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – $22.75 billion for NASA, $1.25 billion above the FY2019 enacted level, reflecting the need to fund infrastructure for human spaceflight to support for the accelerated plan to return to the moon by 2024 while supporting NASA’s science, technology development, aeronautics, and education activities.  Using the same account funding structure as in previous years, this includes:

  • $6.2 billion for Exploration, $1.2 billion above the FY2019 enacted level, to advance NASA’s human exploration program by providing $2.586 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), $1.4 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft to continue development of NASA’s next deep-space crewed capsule, $500 million for the proposed Lunar “Gateway,” and $744 million in funding for crewed lunar landers.
  • $6.9 billion for Science, equal to the FY2019 enacted amount, including $1.9 billion for Earth science, $2.6 billion for Planetary science, $1.2 billion for astrophysics, $423 million for the Webb telescope, and $735 million for Heliophysics. 
  • $784 million for Aeronautics, which is $59 million above the FY2019 enacted level.  The funding will allow for ongoing low sonic boom experimental plane development, as well as supporting research in unmanned aircraft safety and airspace integration, and advanced aircraft composite and materials research.
  • $112 million is provided for the NASA’s STEM Engagement education programs, which were proposed to be eliminated in the budget request.  Within STEM Engagement, Space Grant is funded at $47 million, NASA’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is funded at $22 million, the Minority University Research and Education Project is funded at $33 million, and STEM Education and Accountability projects is funded at $10 million.
  • $1.076 billion is provided for Space Technology, $149 million above the FY2019 enacted level.  Funding is included to advance projects in early stages of development that are expected to eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – $5.337 billion for NOAA to continue core operations including: ocean monitoring; fisheries management; coastal grants to states; aquaculture research; and severe weather forecasting. Full funding is also provided for NOAA’s flagship weather satellites, which are critical for accurate weather warnings to save lives and protect property.

4 responses to “Senate Appropriators Boost NASA’s Budget by $1.25 Billion”

  1. Andrew_M_Swallow says:

    …$500 million for the proposed Lunar “Gateway,” and $744 million in funding for crewed lunar landers.

    The price of the Gateway’s Power and Propulsion Element is $375 million so its entire cost has been covered. Leaving $125 million for the people at NASA and the down payment on the Minimal Habitation Module.

    $744 should allow the detailed design of the crewed lander.

    • therealdmt says:

      However, of course, the House has so far approved no additional funding to go towards Artemis (beyond what was already in store before Pence announced the Artemis program and its accelerated return to the Moon back in March).

      That could still change though – I’m guessing the House will add some (but less) funding for Artemis before the total House appropriations bill is voted on.

      I forget if Gateway was already set to get some funding this year, regardless of Artemis (if anything, Artemis is scaling Gateway back and/or delaying full Gateway development)

      • Andrew_M_Swallow says:

        It would probably be better to build the mini Gateway in low lunar orbit and build a full gateway to Mars at EML-2. The mini Gateway is the cheap part of this project.

  2. Antonio Fanella says:

    Best solution is to use the $744 million to finance the SpaceX Starship project. Starship will would become NASA’s new lunar lander without wasting time and other money on useless designs.

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