by Douglas Messier
NASA would received an additional $4.4 billion to perform repairs and upgrades on its aging infrastructure, conduct climate change research and development (R&D) and improve cybersecurity under an infrastructure spending bill now under consideration by the House of Representatives.
The funding does not include any money to fund a second human lander for NASA’s Artemis program that would likely have gone to the National Team led by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The space agency awarded a single source contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The measure divides the extra funding as follows:
- $4 billion for infrastructure repairs and upgrades at NASA centers through September 2026;
- $388 million for climate change R&D through September 2026;
- $7 million for improvements to cybersecurity through September 2031; and
- $5 million through September 2031 for the NASA Office of Inspector General to monitor and evaluate spending projects funded by the bill.
NASA had sought $5.4 billion to tack a backlog of infrastructure projects at centers across the country. The bill does not specific on how NASA would spend the $4 billion designated for infrastructure improvements.
The measure is specific about the $388 million earmarked for climate change R&D. Specific areas funded include:
- $225 million to advance sustainable aviation;
- $85 million for R&D on sub-seasonal to seasonal models and observations, climate resilience and sustainability, and airborne instruments, campaigns, and surface networks to understand, observe, and mitigate global climate change and its impacts;
- $50 million to support the wildfire community and improve wildfire fighting operations, including the Scalable Traffic Management for Emergency Response Operations project; and
- $28 million for investments in data management and processing to understand, observe, and mitigate the global climate change.
The bill also includes $213 million for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Radioisotope Processing Facility. The facility produces nuclear fuel for NASA’s Mars rovers and deep-space probes, among other applications.
The measure would require approval from the full House and Senate. Republicans have been critical of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan.