Tag Archives: budget

Congress Just Gave NASA A Massive Budget For Next Year

Good news, everyone. NASAs latest budget has just been put forward by Congress and they have allocated the agency $750 million more than they requested. This means the agencys full budget for 2016 is $19.3 billion, which incredibly in an age of cutting costs is almost $1.3 billion more than last year.

The budget increases funding to several key programs at NASA, including its Commercial Crew program, its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and the Orion spacecraft. “We are going back into space with Americans on American rockets, and we are going to Mars,” Senator Bill Nelson said yesterday.

Perhaps most interestingly, $175 million of the budget has been set aside for the Europa Multi-Flyby Mission, a spacecraft that will be sent to Europa in the early 2020s, and the budget dictates that NASA must include a lander for the surface of this icy moon of Jupiter. “This mission shall include an orbiter with a lander that will include competitively selected instruments and that funds shall be used to finalize the mission design concept,” it reads, reported Ars Technica.

A landerhas been touted for the upcoming Europa mission before, but NASA has not been keen to firmly commit to anything yet, as there are many unknowns about undertaking such a landing. It remains to be seen how they’ll go forward with this request.

Nonetheless, the large amount of funding essentially allows NASA to meet most of the other goals it has set itself. Crucially, they were given the $1.243 billion of funding for the Commercial Crew program that they have been pushing so hard for. Administrator Charlie Bolden recently told IFLScience that he counted this getting SpaceX and Boeings manned spacecraft up and running as one of the key goals of his time in office.

Wish you were here? Congress has told NASA they must senda lander to the surface of Europa. NASA

Elsewhere, planetary science has received a boost in the form of $1.631 billion $270 million above what the President requested. According to The Planetary Society, this “allows both the MER Opportunity rover and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to continue science operations.” The upcoming Mars 2020 rover, meanwhile, gets a $22 million boost.

The huge SLS, which Congress seems very keen to overfund, has been given $2 billion, $640 million above the $1.36 billion requested by the President. The SLS, if you arent aware, will eventually be used to take humans to Mars with the Orion spacecraft, which has been given an increase to $1.91 billion.

Of the areas to miss out on their requested levels of funding, one is the Earth Science Division, which received$1.921 billion less than the Presidents request but $149 million more than last year. Another is the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which gets $686 million $39 million less than requested, but $90 million more than last year.

The budget still needs to pass a vote in Congress this week, which seems likely at the moment, although a controversial surveillance bill was snuck in along with it. If it gets bythis test, the White House will almost certainly sign it into law.

Onto Europa, then.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/congress-just-gave-nasa-massive-budget-next-year

NASA’s Proposed 2017 Budget Would Cut Funding For Europa Mission

The first stage in deciding NASAs budget for 2017 has just been completed: the Presidents Budget Request. Although important, the budget will be chopped and changed over the coming months before it is finalized, but it does at least give an indication of what the White House wants NASA to be doing.

This budget would give the agency $19 billion, the highest amount ever requested by a President (not adjusted for inflation). Congress will take a look at the budget and make its own suggested changes, though, likely re-allocating many of the funds. For example, last year, Congress actually gave the agency $750 million more than requested, $19.3 billion, mostly to satiate the desire for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. More on that later.

Perhaps most of note from this budget is the continued loggerheads over the Europa mission. NASA and Congress alike are very excited about the prospect of the Europa Multiple-Flyby Mission (EM-FM), expected in the 2020s, which will be NASAs first dedicated mission to study Jupiter’s moonsince the Galileo spacecraft at the turn of the century.

But the EM-FM was originally planned just as an observation mission from flybys; Congress is determined for it to include a lander, something that may be a bit of a riskconsidering we still know very little about the icy moon. They gave NASA$175 million to investigate sending a lander in the 2016 budget, but the Presidents request this year cuts funding for the Europa mission to $50 million, possibly delaying its launch from the early to late 2020s.

As mentioned, the Presidents request also attempts to stem the huge amount of money Congress wants to pour into the SLS, a heavy-lift rocket that many view as essential for getting humans to Mars. Last year, the initial request for SLS funding was $1.385 billion. Congress gave it $2 billion. The 2017 budget seeks to return it to lower levels, at $1.31 billion. That is almost certainly going to be increased by Congress.

An artist’s impression of the SLS. NASA

Commercial spaceflight, which funds companies like SpaceX and Boeing, also gets a slight cut from $1.243 billion to $1.184 billion, despite it being one of Administrator Charlie Boldens key areas for the agency. This will supposedly still keep the first private manned launches on track for next year, though. And planetary science, despite seeing huge success last year with missions like New Horizons, would also be cut from $1.631 billion to $1.519 billion.

The biggest winners would include Earth sciences, increasing its budget from $1.921 billion to $2.032 billion. Aeronautics would also receive a significant boost, from $640 million to $790.4 million, possibly to help NASA develop new supersonic and hypersonic aircraft technologies to enable faster travel around the world. Funding for existing missions, including the Opportunity rover on Mars, would also continue.

“The investments in the Presidents FY2017 budget proposal announced today will empower the people of NASA to improve our quality of life today and prepare to send American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s,” said Bolden in an address.

This is just a taster for now though. There will be much debate over the NASA budget until it is formalized in October this year, so for now this is just an indication of the direction it might go in. For further analysis, check out Casey Dreiers piece for The Planetary Society, or Phil Plaits take over at Slate.

Photo Gallery

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/nasas-proposed-2017-budget-would-cut-funding-europa-mission

Technology Can Fix the Budget Crisis


A pair of Clinton-era telecom regulators and “card-carrying Democrats” want to bring back some of the economic magic of the go-go 1990s with an ambitious plan to accelerate growth, shrink the national debt while revolutionizing the delivery of government services and help slow global warming.

The plan from former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt and his former chief of staff, Blair Levin, is outlined in an e-book called The Politics of Abundance: How Technology Can Fix the Budget, Revive the American Dream, and Establish Obama’s Legacy. It modestly proposes that huge economic growth can be spurred through reconfiguring the way energy is produced, purchased, and consumed. At the same time, the government can generate new efficiencies and savings using broadband applications in health care and education.

All it’s going to take is a grand bargain between Republicans and Democrats in which revenue from a big new emissions tax that targets energy generated by nonrenewable sources and from utility regulation reform is swapped for lower personal and corporate tax rates and a reduction in taxes U.S.-based multinationals pay on repatriated foreign profits.

It sounds like a pipe dream, but Hundt and Levin think it’s possible. “We did not put one thing in that we thought Republicans would overwhelmingly oppose,” Hundt said Tuesday morning at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

The two are shopping their plan to policymakers, lobbyists, industry leaders, and think tankers. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., recommended it to his caucus in a letter, calling the book, “a thoughtful, forward-looking, and optimistic prescription for President Obama’s second term, and I commend it to your consideration.”

On the technology side, the plan calls for raising $45 billion thorough a spectrum auction and spectrum management fees. Some of these funds will go to an effort to digitize all government information and move it to a cloud-based system. “The government should not be the last institution in the social landscape to know which way the digital wind is blowing,” they write.

They offer a laundry list of recommendations for executive actions to push government services online, including the elimination of paper from government, creating a secure system for digital voting, new standards for making online medical records interoperable, new telemedicine rules that allow for delivery of services across state lines, and rewarding school districts that use digital course materials including electronic textbooks. They would also centralize all government spectrum leasing through the Office of Management and Budget, taking that role away from the military and government agencies that currently hold the spectrum.

Hundt said he and Levin wrote the book in anticipation of an Obama victory in the November elections. He offered another prediction — that the Obama administration and Congress will come to terms on a compromise to avert the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. He expects a deal to include tax hikes on top earners, and a postponement of a reckoning on taxes and entitlements. As Obama pivots to his second-term agenda, Hundt said that the president will find a Congress “that will want accomplishments.”

The two faced a skeptical audience. Seth Bloom, general counsel on the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, said that such transformative legislation faces strong headwinds in Congress. Filibuster reform, he said, “could be the most important thing in getting stuff like this to move.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, BotheredByBees

This article originally published at National Journal

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/27/technology-budget-crisis/

Space Weather Forecast System Could Cost $2 Billion


Variations in space weather have the potential to disrupt the electric power grid, telecommunications and Global Positioning Systems — virtually all public infrastructure. To predict such disruptions, a comprehensive space weather forecasting system could cost between $1 billion and $2 billion during the next decade, space scientists told members of the House Space, Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday.

Costs would include replacing the Advanced Composition Explorer satellite, which provides data for geomagnetic storm warnings issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, which has operated 13 years beyond its two-year design life, Laura Furgione, acting director of the National Weather Service, told the committee’s panel on space and aeronautics.

Furgione said the ACE satellite represents the “single point of failure” for critical geomagnetic storm measurements and NOAA planned to replace it with the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite that NASA developed and placed in storage in November 2001. NOAA plans to launch DSCOVR in 2014, but Furgione told the hearing that it too has a two-year design life.

NOAA will have to consider a variety of options to replace these two key spacecraft, including hosting payloads on commercial satellites, using space weather information provided by other countries and commercial space weather data, Furgione said.

Charles Gay, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, testified that research missions the agency’s multisatellite Heliophysics Explorer program conducted can be adapted to provide solar, solar wind and near-Earth observations essential for NOAA’s space weather forecasting mission. He added NASA has agreed to work with the European Space Agency on a Solar Orbiter Collaboration project that will use a new satellite slated for launch in 2017 to help where solar winds, plasma and magnetic fields originate in the sun’s corona.

Subcommittee chairman Steven M. Palazzo, R-Miss., said in his opening statement that “as we enter into the next solar maximum — an 11-year solar cycle marked by increased solar activity — the availability of solar wind measurements in particular are essential for maintaining our way of life.” But, he added, the need for improved space weather forecasting has to be balanced against budgetary realities, which means a “prudent and careful examination of the core capabilities and essential services” is needed.

Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the expert who estimated the space weather program’s costs, said costs could be cut by multiagency cooperation among NOAA, NASA, the Defense Department and the National Science Foundation.

The potential impacts of space weather on the country’s infrastructure and economy demand high-level oversight, Baker said. He recommended a national space weather program be chartered under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council and include the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget.

This article originally published at Nextgov

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/28/space-weather-forecast/