NASA could see windfall if FY 2019 Appropriations bill passes
New legislation could see NASA gain a substantial increase in the agency’s budget. Should the bill pass the full House and Senate, and get signed into law, NASA’s science and exploration programs stand to gain the most.
While the bill would increase funding for Deep Space Explorations Systems by $294 million — including Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS) — and the agency’s Science programs by $459 million, the bill would also see NASA’s lunar exploration program gets fully funded with a $504.2 million bump.
Astrobotic, with its ambitions to explore the Moon, was understandably receptive.
“The FY 2019 House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill firmly sets America on a course back to the surface of the Moon for the first time since 1972 with its full funding of the Lunar Discovery and Exploration program in Science Mission Directorate and Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities in the Advanced Exploration Systems office,” noted the company’s CEO, John Thornton, in a release issued by Astrobotic.
With the lunar program components fully funded, along with the boosts to human and planetary science programs, NASA may be able to undertake that at which it excels: exploration.
Speaking at the “Humans to Mars Summit” on May 9, 2018, NASA’s new Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, likened the agency’s role to that of early American exploration ventures, such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Bridenstine noted the need for a public-private partnership to bring NASA’s goals to fruition.
“Forty-nine years after Apollo 11, it’s time to build our own railroad. Like then, we need to enable public funds to support private equity and private bonds to deliver more commerce, more economic growth, and solidify American leadership in space, science, and discovery,” stated Bridenstine.
It would appear that NASA’s increase, though, may come at the expense of other federal agencies. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) could see its budget cut by more than $750 million from 2018’s levels.
Regardless of the final outcome, it appears that NASA has bipartisan support from Congress and will likely see that reflected in its near-term appropriations.
Video courtesy of NASA
Curt Godwin has been a fan of space exploration for as long as he can remember, keeping his eyes to the skies from an early age. Initially majoring in Nuclear Engineering, Curt later decided that computers would be a more interesting - and safer - career field. He's worked in education technology for more than 20 years, and has been published in industry and peer journals, and is a respected authority on wireless network engineering. Throughout this period of his life, he maintained his love for all things space and has written about his experiences at a variety of NASA events, both on his personal blog and as a freelance media representative.
Bridenstine sounds like his predecessor with regards to Mars. No-one today (including Elon Musk) has a viable plan for going there until they overcome the problems of long-term exposure to zero-gravity on humans, unreliable Environmental Control and Life Support Systems, more effective radiation protection and propulsion systems which reduce will transit times.
Best prioritizing the region between low earth and lunar orbit by creating opportunities to settle it with more than just 3 or 6 government astronauts — as has been happening since May 1973.