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NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. Credit: NASA

NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Credit: NASA

Members of the House Subcommittee on Space on Thursday, April 16 discussed fiscal year 2016 budget priorities with NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. at a hearing on the Obama administration’s budget request for the space agency.

 

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.): “NASA is at a crossroads. Unfortunately, the last six years featured drastic change with the cancellation of Constellation and uncertain direction with the president’s ever-changing asteroid initiative. Congress has been consistent in its guidance to NASA that it develop a long-term sustainable exploration strategy that is evolvable and flexible based on an uncertain budget environment. Recent announcements from NASA indicate that the agency is heeding that direction by working towards an architecture that can weather the storms of change that accompany new administrations. Administrator Bolden and his leadership team have a tough job.”

Destination Mars: Outbound Orion spacecraft Credit: Lockheed Martin

Destination Mars: Outbound Orion spacecraft
Credit: Lockheed Martin

Although President Obama’s FY16 budget request of $18.53 billion includes an increase of $519 million over FY15 appropriated levels, no plans have been proposed to pay for or offset the increase. And despite overall increases, the president’s proposal underfunds the Space Launch System and Orion programs, both necessary for deep-space missions to Mars. The budget proposal would cut these human spaceflight programs by nearly $400 million.

Full Committee Chairman Lamar Smith: “While there are some areas of agreement between the Committee and the administration in this budget, the president’s request regrettably changes agreed-upon national priorities. The Obama administration seems to have forgotten NASA’s priorities – and the main one is space exploration. There is a lack of balance in the overall science account request. Congressional guidance and the decadal surveys advocate for a balanced portfolio of science activities. Unfortunately, the president’s request does not adhere to that recommendation by the space experts. One of the most glaring examples is the disproportionate increase in the Earth Science Division that it receives at the expense of other science divisions and human and robotic space exploration.

“There are 13 other agencies involved in climate change research, but only one that is responsible for space exploration. The administration continues to starve NASA’s exploration programs to fund a partisan environmental agenda. NASA simply deserves better.”

In the last eight years, the Obama administration has increased funding for the Earth Science Division by more than 63 percent, while consistently cutting funding for human space exploration programs.

Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). Credit: NASA

Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).
Credit: NASA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearing resources 

An Overview of the Budget Proposal for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for Fiscal Year 2016 is available at:

http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-20150416-SD001.pdf

— To read the April 16, 2015 Statement of Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator of NASA before the Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space and Technology U.S House of Representatives, go to:

http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY16-WState-CBolden-20150416.pdf

— To watch an archived webcast of the hearing, go to:

http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-space-hearing-overview-budget-proposal-national-aeronautics-and-space

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