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Review of NASA funding in new Congressional budget

The omnibus bill, officially known as the Consolidated Budget Act of 2016, is here and there’s some exciting and entirely unexpected great news for Americans. NASA funding is going up. I’ve read the bill so you don’t have to (and given how long it is you really don’t want to). So, let’s break down the numbers and see who came out on top.

Due to procedural rules, the final vote on the omnibus won’t take place until either Thursday or Friday, but it is expected to pass and President Obama has signaled that he intends to sign the bill into law.


NASA is set to receive an incredible $19.3 billion after requesting $18.5 billion. This is also an increase of roughly $1.3 billion more than they received in 2015. This is a 7.1% increase.

Planetary Sciences

Requested: $1.36 billion
Received: $1.63 billion.

There’s a lot of good stuff packed into that increase. Let’s go over it based on existing and proposed projects:

MER Opportunity Rover: Continued
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Continued

Outer Planets Section…

Europa mission (rover and orbiter): Funded at $175 million – launch projected 2022
Mars 2020 Rover mission: Funded at $230 million
Discovery-class missions: Funded at $179 million

Earth Sciences

Requested: $1.947 billion
Received: $1.921 billion

The important point of note in Earth Sciences funding is the earmarking for Landsat 9 and Landsat 10 technology development as well as PACE development.


Requested: $709 million
Received: $730 million

Among the notable projects receiving funding is the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

Space Launch System (SLS)

Requested: $1.356 billion
Received: $2.000 billion

This is an astounding increase and a clear-as-day signal that Congress considers the SLS to be a top priority of American scientific investment. The Space Launch System is the future of deep-space NASA rocketry. It will be launch system used for crewed missions to other planets. This is an 18% increase over 2015.

Commercial Crew

Requested: $1.243 billion
Received: $1.243 billion

The Commercial Crew program is a partnership between NASA and private sector aerospace firms to develop commercial crew spacecraft. The funding request was labeled a top priority by NASA in order to bring crewed space launch capabilities back onto American soil. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon V2 are slated for 2017.

The James Webb Telescope

Requested: $620 million
Received: $620 million

Funded as requested, The James Webb Telescope continues to move forward.

Other Notables

6.4% increase for Orion, 15.2% increase for Space Technology. Science directorate is a 6.6% increase.

Photo Credit: NASA


  1. Ralphi Ralphi December 17, 2015

    After all the rhetoric and the war of words against science… just have to say this is kind of surprising. Like really surprising.

    • Lauren Lauren December 17, 2015

      The people with the most inflammatory language are the ones you hear about in the news. Earth Science and science in general do have advocates in Congress.

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