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NASA is expected to receive a notable funding increase of over $ 1 billion if the Biden administration’s 2022 budget request makes its way through Congress as planned.
In the Budget for fiscal year 2022 Released on Friday, the administration confirmed it was seeking $ 24.8 billion for NASA, an increase of $ 1.5 billion or 6.6% from 2021. The next fiscal year will begin in October.
“This is a very aggressive and forward looking budget for NASA,” Administrator Bill Nelson said in a teleconference with reporters Friday afternoon. “Investing in NASA’s goals and missions is an investment in this country.”
Nelson touted the proposed budget, which could take months to fine-tune in Congress and will likely result in changes, such as a victory for NASA science – especially earth sciences – and space exploration efforts. distant.
“This is NASA’s biggest science budget request ever,” Nelson said. “The Biden administration proves that science is back. Record-breaking science funding will help NASA cope with the climate crisis and advance robotic missions that will pave the way for astronauts to explore the Moon and Mars. “
The budget request includes:
- Deep space exploration: $ 6.8 billion, 5.6% increase
- Space technology: $ 1.4 billion, 29.5% increase
- Space operations: $ 4 billion, 0.7% increase
- Science: $ 7.9 billion, 8.6% increase
- Aerospace: $ 915 million, 10.4% increase
- STEM engagement: $ 147 million, 15.7% increase
- Safety, Security and Mission Services: $ 3 billion, 3.8% increase
- Construction and environmental compliance: $ 390 million, decrease of 8.9%
- Office of the Inspector General: $ 46 million, 4.1% increase
Nelson said strengthening Earth-focused science will help the agency better understand climate change and natural disasters. A new range of satellites, called the Earth System Observatory, is a highlight of the proposal and would help scientists develop 3D views of Earth systems (atmosphere, water, ice, solid Earth, and life).
The budget includes an increase of $ 350 million for Artemis program target to get astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024. Further into the solar system, this also clarifies the Perseverance rover’s long-term mission to Mars – Nelson said the budget includes funding for a spacecraft launch space 2026 that would pick up a sample left by the rover and send it back to Earth for study.
The buzz around the administration’s proposal didn’t include much related to SpaceX’s recent selection to provide the human landing element of the Artemis program. Blue Origin, who led a team of several companies, was not selected because NASA said Congress had not appropriated enough money for the system that will take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface. . Dynetics also made an offer and was not selected.
Blue origin lodged a protest with the Government Accountability Office, which is still examining the methods used by NASA to award SpaceX – and only SpaceX – the $ 2.9 billion contract for Starship. The company headed by Jeff Bezos argues that SpaceX was given the opportunity to change its prices, which it did, during the selection process. Blue Origin was not asked to do the same because NASA officials felt its roughly $ 6 billion bid was too high and likely wouldn’t have been able to meet the slim budget demands.
Friday’s budget proposal includes $ 1.2 billion for the Human Lander system over the next year, but just for the SpaceX price alone. A separate authorization bill from NASA, however, could bring Blue Origin back into the fold as several officials and senators have expressed concerns about choosing a single company.
“Both House and Senate members made it clear to me that they wanted a competition for the remaining lander contracts,” Nelson said, adding that SpaceX could pilot a moon-linked Starship demonstration in 2024.
The GAO, meanwhile, is still reviewing Blue Origin’s protest, and its final report could quickly change the HLS rewards landscape.