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White House Proposes $19.1 Billion NASA Budget

The SLS, Orion atop, lifting off in this artist's concept. What happens to this rocket under the new administration? Photo: NASA

NASA receives $19.1 billion under the President’s recommended budget, down almost half a billion dollars from last year.

“We have a very positive budget that retains the same parameters we saw in March, and which reflects the president’s confidence in our direction and the importance of everything we’ve been achieving,” said NASA’s acting administrator Robert Lightfoot.

Major cuts this year are in education. The President terminated NASA’s Office of Education, leaving only $37 million for close-out costs. Budget officials say some programs may move to the Science division of NASA.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission, an ambitious program to snag an asteroid and tow it into lunar orbit, got the ax as well. “We are ending formulation of a mission to an asteroid, known as the Asteroid Redirect Mission,” said Lightfoot, “but many of the central technologies in development for that mission will continue, as they constitute vital capabilities needed for future human deep space missions.”

Both the education initiatives and the asteroid mission were championed by the previous administration.

Big winners in the budget include NASA’s planetary science division receiving $1.9 billion. The funds keep a robotic mission to Mars on track for 2020, as well as the development of a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. Earth sciences were cut to $1.8 billion, down nearly $200 million from last year’s budget.

Efforts to develop NASA’s next generation rocket and capsule, the SLS and Orion, received slightly similar budget lines, about $4 billion dollars. The ground systems to support those missions, many that are housed at Kennedy Space Center, received a boost in the budget.

NASA continues to fund efforts to develop commercial partners, like Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada, to provide cargo and crew deliveries to space.

The budget request heads to Congress where lawmakers will tweak the final spending proposal.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »