A look at U.S. President Trump’s Budget for NASA has been issued: America First: A Budget Blueprint To Make America Great Again.

The Budget increases cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnerships, focuses the Nation’s efforts on deep space exploration rather than Earth-centric research, and develops technologies that would help achieve U.S. space goals and benefit the economy.

Credit: GPO

The President’s 2018 Budget requests $19.1 billion for NASA, a 0.8 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized Continuing Resolution (CR) level, with targeted increases consistent with the President’s priorities.

 

Snapshot looks 

• Supports and expands public-private partnerships as the foundation of future U.S. civilian space efforts. The Budget creates new opportunities for collaboration with industry on space station operations, supports public-private partnerships for deep-space habitation and exploration systems, funds data buys from companies operating small satellite constellations, and supports work with industry to develop and commercialize new space technologies.

• Paves the way for eventual over-land commercial supersonic flights and safer, more efficient air travel with a strong program of aeronautics research. The Budget provides $624 million for aeronautics research and development.

Credit: ESA – P.Carril

• Reinvigorates robotic exploration of the Solar System by providing $1.9 billion for the Planetary Science program, including funding for a mission to repeatedly fly by Jupiter’s icy ocean moon Europa and a Mars rover that would launch in 2020. To preserve the balance of NASA’s science portfolio and maintain flexibility to conduct missions that were determined to be more important by the science community, the Budget provides no funding for a multi-billion-dollar mission to land on Europa. The Budget also supports initiatives that use smaller, less expensive satellites to advance science in a cost-effective manner.

• Provides $3.7 billion for continued development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and associated ground system, to send American astronauts on deep-space missions. To accommodate increasing development costs, the Budget cancels the multi-billion-dollar Asteroid Redirect Mission. NASA will investigate approaches for reducing the costs of exploration missions to enable a more expansive exploration program.

Credit: NOAA/NASA/USAF

• Provides $1.8 billion for a focused, balanced Earth science portfolio that supports the priorities of the science and applications communities, a savings of $102 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget terminates four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduces funding for Earth science research grants.

• Eliminates the $115 million Office of Education, resulting in a more focused education effort through NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Office of Education has experienced significant challenges in implementing a NASA-wide education strategy and is performing functions that are duplicative of other parts of the agency.

• Restructures a duplicative robotic satellite refueling demonstration mission to reduce its cost and better position it to support a nascent commercial satellite servicing industry, resulting in a savings of $88 million from the 2017 annualized CR level.

• Strengthens NASA’s cybersecurity capabilities, safeguarding critical systems and data.

NASA statement

In a statement from NASA acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot on the Fiscal Year 2018 agency budget proposal:

“While more detailed budget information will be released in May, we have received a top line budget number for the agency as part of an overall government budget rollout of more than $19 billion. This is in line with our funding in recent years, and will enable us to effectively execute our core mission for the nation, even during these times of fiscal constraint.”

Lightfoot adds: “As with any budget, we have greater aspirations than we have means, but this blueprint provides us with considerable resources to carry out our mission, and I know we will make this nation proud.”

3 Responses to “White House Budget for NASA: Earth-centric Research Hit; No Europa Lander; Asteroid Redirect Mission Cancelled”

  • Herbert W. Guendel says:

    With respect to Asteroid Redirect Mission, the article says “NASA will investigate approaches for reducing the costs of exploration missions to enable a more expansive exploration program”. We submitted a couple of proposals in 2015 and 2016 but we never saw a concrete plan and a timeline on this subject from NASA. This program made a lot of sense to us as a preliminary approach to test articles in deep space without putting human beings in peril. Continuing with deep space exploration will require many more billions of dollars than the figure above to carry out static, dynamic and “all up” tests before astronauts can be put on board of a space vehicle. If NASA and government is serious about deep space exploration in the near future, a program needs to be in place yesterday to design the crew and the cargo vehicles that will be needed for safe travel of the astronauts. In addition, those vehicles would have to be assembled in space robotically which adds to the cost an enormous amount. Studies need to be completed yesterday as to how to protect the astronauts from galactic radiation and cosmic rays that can damage sensitive instrumentation and principally, the astronauts’ health. As a tax payer, I like to challenge NASA to draw the line on the sand and request a comprehensive plan with a timeline and cost that will include development and test of the hardware I indicated above and completion of the required rockets (70 and 130 metric tons rockets) that would be required to carry out deep space exploration safely.

  • I hope that my previous comment be read by appropriate members of congress and by the White House as I think that they do not see how complex and expensive deep space exploration would be. The longer we take, the more expensive will be when considering space travel times. NASA must show them a complete plan and timeline, not just a piece meal plan such as SLS and Orion programs. They would end up agreeing that to conquer deep space, would require an international effort.

  • Gene Cross says:

    The elimination of the DSCOVR mission from the 2018 budget seems to me tragic.
    The EPIC camera aboard DSCOVR does radiometry of Earth that is important to long range meteorology, climatology, and economic forecasting of agriculture. There is no backup source for this data!

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