NASA chief says proposed budget is a 'huge vote of confidence' in the agency

WASHINGTON - This week, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration unveiled its fiscal year 2020 budget. The proposal makes substantial cuts to domestic and international humanitarian programs, but provides more funding for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs. NASA is also slated to get a bit of a funding bump in requested funds compared to the previous year if the budget proposal is approved by Congress.

Mar 12th, 2019
NASA chief says proposed budget is a 'huge vote of confidence' in the agency
NASA chief says proposed budget is a 'huge vote of confidence' in the agency
WASHINGTON - This week, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration unveiled its fiscal year 2020 budget. The proposal makes substantial cuts to domestic and international humanitarian programs, but provides more funding for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs. NASA is also slated to get a bit of a funding bump in requested funds compared to the previous year if Trump's budget proposal is approved by Congress.

“President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 NASA budget is one of the strongest on record for our storied agency. At $21 billion, this budget represents a nearly 6 percent increase over last year’s request and comes at a time of constrained resources across the federal government," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday. "It also is a huge vote of confidence for all of the agency’s hard work and dedication."

He continued, “We will go to the Moon in the next decade with innovative, new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the lunar surface than ever before. This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay. We will use what we learn as we move forward to the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars."

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In addition to missions outside of Earth, NASA plans to use its budget to continue public/private partnerships in order to launch American astronauts state-side for the first time in nearly a decade.

“This budget will build on our successes in low-Earth orbit to create a sustainable exploration campaign that combines NASA’s expertise with that of our commercial and international partners’. We will continue ushering in a new era of human spaceflight as we launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil for the first time since 2011," Bridenstine commented. "The Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft, and Gateway will continue to be our backbone for deep space exploration. Beginning with a series of small commercial delivery missions to the Moon as early as this year, we will use new landers, robots and eventually humans by 2028 to conduct science across the entire lunar surface."

Opposition to President Trump's budget is likely from the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democratic representatives for the first time since his inauguration in 2017.

Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey, who leads the House Appropriations Committee that essentially holds the power of the purse for the federal government, quickly shot down the proposal.

“President Trump has somehow managed to produce a budget request even more untethered from reality than his past two,” Lowey said in a statement. “With such misguided priorities, the Trump budget has no chance of garnering the necessary bipartisan support to become law. I am committed to working with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to write appropriations bills that responsibly fund the government.”

In addition to Democratic opposition, the president is proposing making budget cuts to popular programs like Medicare and community development block grants, which enjoy support on both sides of the aisle.

NASA commands both popularity among the American people and a small portion of the federal budget. According to a Pew Research Center survey completed last spring, 72% of Americans say it is "essential for the U.S. to continue to be a world leader in space exploration," and 65% of respondents see that as an essential role for NASA. Its funding represents just 0.49% of the federal budget, so it seems less likely lawmakers from either side would look to draw significant funding from it to preserve existing programs or expand others.

“With this budget, NASA’s critical work studying our home planet and the Sun will benefit humankind for generations. We will reveal the unknown with missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa and the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. We will continue planning and developing the first round-trip mission to the Red Planet with Mars Sample Return.

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“This budget also continues support for transformative aeronautics technology research. We will make air travel safer, greener and more efficient, and continue pioneering the next generation of supersonic flight," said Bridenstine.

“As we approach the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 this July, we are moving forward to the Moon and on to Mars, and we want the world to come with us. NASA is everywhere, and we are impacting people’s lives across the globe. As we celebrate the past, let’s inspire our friends and family for the future that we are building," concluded Bridenstine.

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