Executive Intelligence Review


White House Requests Slight Decrease for NASA Budget, But Starts Important Moon/Mars Projects

March 11, 2019 (EIRNS)—The Trump Administration today released its proposals for funding the federal government for FY20. NASA’s budget proposal at $21 billion is nearly a 6% increase over the administration’s proposed budget last year, but a slight decrease from what the Congress appropriated for the space agency. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine pointed to the White House’s support for the space program. Speaking from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he said that NASA also has “strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.”

Under the rubric of “Moon to Mars,” a few programs of importance for lunar exploration and preparation for Mars have been at least initially funded. Bridenstine reported that in the budget, “we have money” to start programs “for a return to the Moon with humans.” He reported that work on “human-rated landers are funded for the first time in 10 years,” since Obama cancelled the Constellation program. The funding for next year is proposed at $380 million, which will have to be ramped up, costing about $3.4 billion before it’s ready to fly, reported NASA CFO Jeff DeWitt in a follow-on briefing.

In a related initiative, NASA announced today that it has selected nine teams of scientists to study pieces of the Moon brought back by Apollo astronauts, some, pristine, which have never been exposed to Earth’s atmosphere.

On a Mars program, the budget describes a Mars sample return mission as a “high priority,” which received applause from the audience, and proposes $109 million for the start planning such a mission, which would have to grow to about $400 million per year.