Senate committee throws money at NASA

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The Senate appropriations subcommittee has announced its proposed 2017 budget for NASA, including significant budget increases for SLS and Orion.

SLS is the big winner in the bill, according to a summary of its contents provided by the committee. The heavy-lift launch vehicle would get $2.15 billion, $150 million more than it received in 2016 and $840 million above the administration’s request. The SLS funding includes $300 million directed for work on the Exploration Upper Stage with the goal of having it ready as soon as 2021, the earliest planned date for the first crewed SLS/Orion mission.

The bill also provides $1.3 billion for Orion, $30 million above 2016 and $180 million above the administration’s request. It also directs Orion to be ready for its first crewed mission in 2021.

The bill provides $5.4 billion for science programs overall, $200 million below the request. The summary does not break out spending among the various science mission directorates. Commercial crew would get $1.18 billion, the amount requested by NASA, and space technology would get $687 million, the same as 2016 but $140 million less than requested.

Meanwhile, in order to keep NASA’s overall budget about the same as last year the subcommittee, led by porkmeister Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), apparently trimmed the agency’s science budget.

The full plan will be revealed tomorrow. Moreover, the House still has to make its budget proposal, and then the House and Senate have to agree. Regardless, this Senate budget proposal is more indication that this Republican Congress is going to throw endless gobs of money at SLS and Orion, so the boondoggle can fly once, maybe twice, and then get mothballed. What a waste.

It also tells us how insincere many Republican elected officials are when they claim they are for fiscal responsibility.


  • Edward

    What has me amazed is that, unlike Apollo, it is the space enthusiasts, not the poverty advocates, who are complaining about the high cost/low reward Orion-SLS program. Rather than complaining that the money should be used to end poverty (perhaps they have finally learned that throwing money at poverty does not end it), people are complaining — and rightly so — that the money would be better spent on real space science or real space technology development programs.

    Orion-SLS, with only two scheduled manned missions, is looking less like a manned program with a mission to accomplish and more like a technology demonstration program. Except, you know, without the new technology to demonstrate.

    As one commentor, Joe, noted before ( ): we will have spent all these tens of billions of dollars only to recreate a Saturn V. Except not as good. And without a purpose.

  • Steve Earle

    Edward, excellent points.

    I agree with all except the one about the poverty advocates. They are silent for now, not because of any epiphany on their part, but because there is a Democrat in the WH. As I am sure you already know, many of those “community organizers” don’t really want to solve poverty (or any other social ill) since that is where their power and money come from.

    Just like the Anti-War crowd goes silent when a D is in charge (strange how all the demonstrations went away as of Jan 2009, isn’t it?), they and the Tax and Spend Liberals will be out in full name-calling force on the first day of an R administration……

  • Wayne

    Well put!
    Excellent points & observations!

    The minute any R is installed in the Whitehouse; “poverty,” “the uninsured,” “the unemployed,” “food-stamp recipients,” “price of gasoline,” “The War,” “the Debt,” etc., etc., will be on page 1 every day. Any movement toward cutting these programs will be met with screams about “starving children” and the stereotypical media-narrative against all things Conservative.
    –My neighbor meticulously kept track of “soldiers killed by Bush,” with a sign on his front lawn–it vanished on January 20, 2009.

  • Joe

    It seems that the only “science” this government is interested in is that of climate change and minimalism, the SLS is nothing more than a government works program designed to line pockets. My observations echo those of Edward, Steve, and Wayne, when there is an R in the whitehouse, there are way too many people starving to death and we just can’t do any more cutting, the cupboards are bare! With Saturn, Mercury, and Apollo, we got science, with Hubble we got science, with SLS we have a jobs program.

  • Wayne

    Well put!
    The current regime sees everything through their Marxist, de-growth, “green,” lens. They appear to love technology but concurrently hate the people who invent it.

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