House Appropriators Poised To Vote on $17.6B NASA Budget

by

SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. House appropriators are proposing a plan that would give NASA $17.6 billion in 2013, $226 million less than Congress approved for the agency in 2012, according to a legislative plan released April 18 and scheduled to be marked up April 19 by the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee.

In contrast to a plan that the Senate Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee approved April 17, the House proposal would let the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) retain responsibility for acquiring new satellites instead of turning that job over to NASA.

Both the House and Senate bills would scale back funding for the development of commercial crew taxis. In its 2013 budget blueprint, the White House asked Congress for $830 million for those vehicles. The Senate plan includes $525 million for the Commercial Crew Program and report language expected to accompany the House bill would allocate $500 million for that program, a former congressional aide said. House Appropriators also plan to alot $330 million for research and development in NASA’s human space exploration program, the former aide said.

The House budget proposal includes a total of $3.78 billion for NASA’s human space exploration programs, including development of a new heavy-lift launch vehicle. The legislation, which specifies that $1.86 billion be spent on the Space Launch System, further states that the vehicle must have the capacity to lift “not less than 130 metric tons” and “have an upper stage and other core elements developed simultaneously,” according to the text of the bill.

The House bill also would:

  • provide $4 billion for NASA Space Operations;
  • set aside $5.1 billion for NASA science programs, $5 million more than those programs received in the 2012 budget;
  • give NASA $1.4 billion for planetary science “to ensure the continuation of critical research and development programs that were imperiled by the President’s request;”
  • allocate $628 million, the full amount requested by the White House, for the James Webb Space Telescope;
  • give NOAA $916 million in for the Joint Polar Satellite System, the full amount requested by the White House.