NASA funding is to be increased by President Obama as he proposes bill FY2016 to increase the money rolling in up to 18.5 billion dollars. This would mean an increase of 519 million dollars from last year’s FY2015 bill. Obama is calling for the large increase in funding for commercial rockets so that the United States can once again launch its own astronauts into space.
Though, the request would cease funding being filtered to the revered Mars rover Opportunity and other Mars research vehicles. Normally, these budget proposals are not set in stone from the beginning. Politicians in Congress nearly always assert their own changes in the bill, reducing funding lines whilst increasing budget funding for other projects. In recent years, federal funding for commercially-launched rockets has been put on the back burner by Congress and the Obama Administration. NASA has been continuously denied for funding.
Since NASA funding is near an all-time low, they have contracted SpaceX and Boeing. These companies have created capsule systems to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The year 2017 will undoubtedly be their probable date for beginning service.
NASA received 805 million dollars for ferrying funds in 2015. For the last few years, America’s space program has paid very expensive prices to tag along with the Russians heading to ISS on their Soyuz rockets. Russia is now the world’s single ride to space as all space-faring nations contract to them to transport astronauts to ISS. Though, the White House stated NASA will require 1.24 billion dollars for domestic transportation costs in FY2016. This is a more than 50% increase in funds from the previous year.
The ensuing trouble with Congress regarding NASA funding normally involves the large amount of money apportioned to NASA’s deep-space rocket. The Space Launch System, known as Project Orion, will be used for deep-space exploration. They project to send the spacecraft to Mars and further into space to encounter with asteroids. Project Orion uses a series of nuclear explosions as propulsion through space. The unmanned test launch of Orion is set to launch in 2018. Unfortunately though, the FY2016 bill request for project Orion funding is 2.4 billion dollars – down 345 million dollars. Congressional supporters of expanding NASA’s budget have already voiced their concern and general dissatisfaction.
Other space program requests for funding include an “immediate initiation” of the new Landsat spacecraft. The Landsat spacecraft is the longest continuous satellite record of surface modification on Earth. The project was first launched in 1972. The beginning of Landsat 9, the successor to Landsat 8, should guarantee its unfettered service is unabridged.
Whilst NASA continues to create and advance the future of space travel and exploration of the Solar System and the far away cosmos, Congress will continue to impede on their mission. In the future, they plan on launching manned missions to Mars and one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. Furthermore, they plan on completing the asteroid redirect mission (ARM), which will deflect incoming asteroids. If Obama looks to increase funding for NASA in his last two terms, the launch dates for these projects will be on track to begin in the early 2030s.
By: Alex Lemieux
Picture: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center – Flickr License