Updated 7:20 p.m. Eastern with Nelson comments.

WASHINGTON — The White House is proposing a $27.2 billion budget for NASA in fiscal year 2024 that would include increased funding for Artemis and starting work on a tug to deorbit the International Space Station.

The Biden administration’s budget framework, released March 9, proposed increasing NASA’s budget by 7% from the nearly $25.4 billion the agency received in fiscal year 2023, roughly keeping pace with inflation. The document provided only high-level details about the budget, with NASA’s full budget proposal to be released March 13.

“This budget request reflects the administration’s confidence in NASA and its faith in the world’s finest workforce,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a brief “State of NASA” speech broadcast March 9 a few hours after the release of the budget.

The White House highlighted several aspects of the proposal, including an increase in funding for exploration. The proposal includes $8.1 billion for exploration, an increase of more than half a billion dollars from 2023. The proposal “fully funds the rockets, crew vehicle, lunar landers, space suits, and other systems needed to fly astronauts around the Moon” on Artemis 2, scheduled for late 2024, and later Artemis landing missions.

Nelson announced in his speech that the agency would announce the four-person crew of Artemis 2 on April 3. Three of the four will be NASA astronauts and the fourth will be from Canada, part of a previous agreement regarding Canada’s contributions to the lunar Gateway.

The budget includes $949 million for Mars Sample Return, the campaign of missions to return samples the Perseverance rover has collected on Mars. NASA projected spending $800 million on Mars Sample Return in 2024 in its 2023 budget proposal.

The proposal, the White House document adds, “also supports NASA’s contribution toward U.S. collaboration with the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover mission” but does not specify the amount. ESA sought support from NASA to fly its Rosalind Franklin rover after severing ties with Russia last year, including thrusters for the lander, radioisotope heating units for the rover and launch services.

The White House is requesting $2.5 billion for Earth science in the budget, similar to what NASA projected spending in 2024 in its fiscal year 2023 request. That would include support for the next Landsat spacecraft and the Earth System Observatory series of missions.

The administration included a new initiative in the budget proposal, seeking $180 million to start work on a deorbit tug for the ISS. “Rather than relying on Russian systems that may not be able to accomplish this task, the Budget provides $180 million to initiate development of a new space tug that may also be useful for other space transportation missions,” it stated.

In August 2022, NASA requested information from industry on its concepts for an ISS deorbit tug after previously planning to use Progress spacecraft for a controlled reentry. That tug would dock to the station about a year before reentry, placing the station into an elliptical orbit before performing a final reentry burn.

A smaller initiative included in the budget document is $39 million to study orbital debris. “NASA has a key role to play in better understanding the worsening debris environment in orbit around the planet and supporting the development of innovative approaches to help protect satellites and reduce the risk posed by space debris,” the budget document stated.

The document provided few other details about the proposal, other than $1.39 billion for space technology and support for aeronautics and STEM education.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...