CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA would get a 6.3% increase in its budget under the $1.5 trillion budget the Biden-Harris administration submitted to Congress Friday.

What You Need To Know

The plan proposes a $24.7 billion budget for the space agency in fiscal year 2022, which is $1.5 billion more than NASA's budget at the 2021 level approved by Congress.

The proposed funding includes a $6.9 billion discretionary request for the Artemis program, which is NASA's project to return humans to the moon and eventually Mars. The request is a $325 million increase from the previous year.

NASA says the request keep the agency on its path to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon in the next few years. It includes work on the Space Launch System rocket, Orion crew capsule, and orbiting Gateway lunar outpost.

It also includes funding to continue the Mars rover missions, including the plan to actually bring samples back from Mars, and allocates $3 billion to continue research on the International Space Station.

Other programs mentioned in the budget include:

  • Funding for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, a telescope more powerful than the Hubble Telescope that is supposed to be used in the study of the universe's expansion, including dark energy and exoplanets. The Roman Space Telescope was not given funding in the 2021 budget under the previous administration
  • Funding for the Clipper mission to the Jupiter Moon, Europa, and the Dragonfly mission to Saturn's moon, Titan
  • $1.4 billion for space and aviation technology research and development, with a focus on cleaner, more efficient technologies

NASA would also get $2.3 billion for Earth Science programs, which are used to better understand the way the planet works, along with the effects of climate change. That's an increase of $250 million from 2021. It also marks a shift from the Trump administration, which frequently proposed reducing Earth Science programs within NASA.

“We know this funding increase comes at a time of constrained resources, and we owe it to the president and the American people to be good and responsible stewards of every tax dollar invested in NASA," said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk in a statement on the NASA website. "The NASA workforce and the American people should be encouraged by what they see in this funding request. It is an investment in our future, and it shows confidence in what this agency has to offer.”

The budget blueprint gives us a first real look at President Biden's plans for space, as subject his administration has spoken little about, aside from saying he supports the program. Since the $1.5 trillion "skinny budget" represents only the top line budget items, space enthusiasts took this cautiously as an encouraging sign for NASA, which saw renewed interest under the Trump administration.

"Glad to see an increase," tweeted Lori Garver, former deputy NASA administrator under the Obama administration. "Not sure what we can do on Artemis for $325M over last year’s Congressional levels. NASA 6% is significantly less than other R&D Agencies — NSF got 20% for example. Overall $110B increase in discretionary funding — our share is $1.5B — but it’s not nothin!"

The Trump administration wanted to return Americans to the moon by 2024. It's not known whether NASA, under the Biden administration, will stick with that ambitious goal.

It's also unknown yet whether Congress will grant Biden's request. In previous years it was not uncommon for Congress to allocate less for NASA than what the White House wanted.

The Biden administration is expected to release a more comprehensive budget in the coming months.

Biden has already announced Bill Nelson, the former U.S. senator from Florida, as his pick to be the next NASA administrator. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has not announced when his confirmation hearing will be.

FY2022 Discretionary Request on Scribd


Facebook Twitter