WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Science, Space and Competitiveness Subcommittee, today applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee’s approval of $5.3 billion for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s science research programs for fiscal year (FY) 2016. Earlier this month, Peters sent a letter to Senator Barbara Mikulski, Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging a strong allocation of funding for NASA’s science mission.

“I am pleased to see that Senate appropriators provided the $5.3 billion for NASA’s science missions that I requested,” said Senator Peters. “Investing in NASA’s science programs leads to the research and development of new technologies, which increases the competitiveness of our space program and helps shed more light on ways we can protect our Earth.”

However, Senator Peters also raised concerns about the poor funding levels for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The program was only funded at $900 million, which is $344 million below President Obama’s request. Due to the lack of funding, NASA will have to continue relying on Russia to shuttle American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) beyond 2017.

“For decades, the United States  been a world leader in space exploration, and Congress must support the Commercial Crew Program to ensure our nation continues pioneering space for generations to come,” added Senator Peters. “While I am pleased with the support for NASA’s science mission, I am deeply concerned with NASA’s Commercial Crew program’s level of funding. I strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together to increase funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew program as this bill makes its way to the Senate floor, so we can restore an American capability to get our astronauts to space and end our sole reliance on Russia.”

The legislation passed by the Senate Appropriation Committee includes $18.3 billion for NASA for FY2016. The $5.3 billion allocated to NASA’s science program is $50 million greater than the enacted FY 2015 levels and $6.4 million above requested funding.

Last month, Peters toured NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where he saw firsthand the research being conducted on Earth Science and Heliophysics. As Ranking Member of the Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee, Peters strongly supports greater funding for NASA’s science mission and has fought back against efforts to further cut NASA research funding.