While NASA’s overall planetary sciences program is enjoying record funding levels, the agency is grappling with cost growth in two of its largest missions.
With a two-week extension of the stopgap spending bill funding much of the federal government enacted, the outgoing chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA says he’s hopeful to get a final spending bill approved before that bill expires.
The Trump administration’s desire to establish a Space Force could be in jeopardy next year after Democrats assume control of the House, while the departure of a key House appropriator could spell trouble for NASA missions to the potentially habitable moon of Europa.
Switching from SLS to the Falcon Heavy may cause some trade-offs in designing both the Europa Clipper and the Europa Lander to fit the smaller rocket. However, the cost savings could be plowed into an Enceladus orbiter.
NASA has done a good job implementing the recommendations of its latest planetary science decadal survey despite past budget problems, but needs to improve some programs, a recent report concluded.
A House funding bill approved by an appropriations subcommittee May 9 will help keep a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa on track for a launch in 2022.
NASA is in discussions with its Russian counterparts about extending some upcoming space station missions as a way to buy more time for development of commercial crew vehicles.
Revised concepts for a proposed Europa lander mission could reduce its mass and cost by simplifying its science requirements and doing away with a dedicated communications relay.
NASA's fiscal year 2019 proposal will likely set up another showdown between NASA and Congress regarding the Europa Clipper mission, debating not only when to launch the spacecraft but also how.
NASA is continuing to examine various, potentially less expensive options for a mission to land on Jupiter’s moon Europa even after completing a recent review, postponing a call for instruments for the spacecraft.
The director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said his center is pressing ahead with work on current and proposed missions to Mars and Europa despite ongoing debates on Capitol Hill about funding some of those missions.
NASA is going ahead with these plans even though the administration's fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint included no funding for a Europa lander mission.
It's unclear how this proposal would work with existing NASA studies of a Europa lander mission that could launch as soon as 2025.