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House NASA budget cuts all funding for lunar lander but adds billions for “infrastructure”

The House science committee is about to propose a NASA budget that would cut all funding for a lunar lander but add $4 billion so that NASA can build new buildings and facilities.

An updated draft of the bill, dated Sept. 4, offers good and bad news for NASA. It includes $4 billion for “repair, recapitalization, and modernization of physical infrastructure and facilities” across the agency. The bill does not assign amounts to specific projects or centers.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson had made funding for agency infrastructure a priority in any budget reconciliation package, seeking more than $5 billion earlier this year. “There’s aging infrastructure that is dilapidated,” he told House appropriators in May. “They’ve got holes in the roof where they’re putting together the core of the SLS” at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Michoud suffered additional damage from Hurricane Ida last month.

However, the draft bill includes nothing for the other priority identified by Nelson, the agency’s Human Landing System (HLS) program. Nelson said in May he wanted $5.4 billion for HLS to allow NASA to select a second company alongside SpaceX to develop and demonstrate a lander capable of transporting astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

Congratulations America! This is the Congress we have voted for. They want a space agency tasked with finding ways to explore the solar system but will only fund the “repair, recapitalization, and modernization of physical infrastructure and facilities” on Earth.

In other words, NASA will have gold-plated buildings in which they will be able to do nothing but shuffle paper because Congress has given them no funding to fly anything in space.

What a joke. But then, as I said, this is the Congress Americans have chosen, so that means not only is Congress a joke, so are the American people.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Kyle

    Stolen Elections have consequences.

  • Kyle: The question of election theft revolves entirely around the presidential election. To use that as an excuse for the people we have been electing in both the House and Senate for decades is shameful. And it is they who are passing this budget, not Biden.

    Read the article. The fault here lies mostly with the House.

  • Commensurate with Robert’s comment: yes, the House is where the real power lies. Designed to give the People direct access to power, it’s where money is allocated It is frustrating that so many folks upset with the Nation don’t have the first idea how the Nation was designed to operate. Used to be taught in (government-run) schools. Now, we have a bunch of tribes fighting over the remains of empire.

    I have noted that political propaganda the last decade has shifted attention to the Presidency, rather than the more mundane Federal representatives. As they say, keep your eye on the ball

  • Andi

    As the old joke goes, “If con is the opposite of pro, what’s the opposite of progress?”

  • milt

    As Blair suggests, it is almost impossible to overstate how critical the 2022 midterm elections will be for the future of this country.

    Depending on the congressional district that you reside in, identify Democrat candidates who are vulnerable, and then do your darnedest (sorry, Robert) to help them retire. Also — if you live in a “safe” district — consider helping candidates in other swing districts in your state. So long as our election laws have not been totally compromised, this is our last best chance to turn things around through the system that the Founders bequeathed to us. Failing this, all bets are off.

    PS — As I have observed before, one of the most common errors in people’s thinking today is to underestimate just how deep the hatred
    of this country (and the loathing for the “wrong” people who live here) runs in the minds of most “progressive” Democrats. Viewed from this perspective, *not* wanting to have a successful manned space program is perfectly logical, and it is reflected in the kind of vote that is described in today’s post. America, they believe, is evil, and it must be punished and humiliated. Therefore, it cannot be allowed to have any successes in space.

    Make no mistake, these people may be evil, but they are not (with some notable exceptions) stupid, and they understand that anything that they can do to demean and diminish this nation is a “win” for their side.

    Again, let’s help them retire in mass in 2022.

  • This proposed budget has no money for a *second* lunar lander.

    The current award to SpaceX for their lunar lander is covered by a previous budget, and that work will continue.

    Sorry, Jeff. No money for Blue Origin.

  • wayne

    “A Case for Anarchism: Governments Should Not Exist”
    Michael Malice & Lex Fridman (October 2020)

  • Matt in AZ

    I find it hard to complain about a so-called infrastructure bill actually spending money on an item that is indeed infrastructure – there’s plenty of bigger issues with the bill to be concerned about. I’d rather see some money -that will spent regardless- go to facility modernization, though I suspect too much will go towards SLS-specific needs that will be unneeded in the end. Adding funds to HLS at this point would only reward and embolden a certain group of unworthy contractors.

  • Matt in AZ: If NASA is truly shifting from building things (badly) to being a customer buying things private enterprise builds, then it needs less infrastructure, not more, and what it already has is quite likely unneeded and could be eliminated.

    What is happening here is simply a pork jobs program, a waste of money that will hinder future development.

  • Kyle

    If they can steal a Presidential Election, these blue states can and probably have been stealing lesser elections as well and for a while. My dark blue Washington State has been doing mail in ballots for around 20 years. Guess when the last time we sent a Republican to the Senate? Or the last Republican we sent to the House from the west side of the state? Or the last Republican Governor? Coincidence? Could be, but after 2020 color me skeptical.

    Anyway, assuming it is just coincidence, term limits would be nice or even repealing the 17th amendment would help clean our the Senate. The problem is that a good chunk of Republicans in Congress are really just less radical Democrats, and I think we have spent too long trying to keep RINOs in for the sake of the majority then for the sake of the country. Its long past time to clean house and vote out all RINOs regardless of whole controls DC. The only issue is that I doubt the country could survive a radical super majority.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I think there is an alternative explanation.

    They already have funding for one lander. Two is better, right? Competition brings out the best. Yes, unless the funds are from the general treasury.

    I actually agree with no second HLS fund. The USG should not fund two full programs through completion. That would be a bad, and expensive, precedent. Such competition is best done in the private sector, with private sector money.

    I am cynical, and assume the following: 1. The committee would like to fund Blue Origin (BO), rather then SpaceX (SpX). If they fund a 2nd system, they kill BO’s lawsuit by rendering it moot. 2. They are counting on a federal court reversing the GAO decision against SpX, re-opening the competition. 3. They will then have the opportunity to make changes that will weed out SpX, through stricter rules in the next round of legislation, combined with more friendly appointees at NASA who are also more likely to choose BO over SpX.

    Again, these are my cynical assumptions.

    Side note. Good to be back.

  • pzatchok

    Term limits in Washington are not good.

    IF you implement term limits you only further shift the real power over to bureaucrats who are not elected.

    Think of it this way. Congressman A builds a good team in his office to push for what he wants. Pork for his local area more than likely.
    The next congressman comes in and more than likely keeps the same team in place. They have the experience and they know the people to contact to get things done.
    There will be little reason to get rid of the experienced office people. Their power will just keep growing.
    Unless a radical change in congressmen happens you will never get rid of the real and growing power behind the scenes.

    Remember the show Yes Minster.

  • sippin_bourbon


    I disagree on the limits. Yes staff rollover is likely. But if the elected leader is strong, he/she will remove staff members that try to dictate his or her policy.

    There is great risk if what you talking about however. And I would suggest we are already there, doubly so. First with the beauracratic regulators, and second with the lifetime congress critters themselves. Term limits can fix one of those.

    Pork is not going away with or without the limits.

    Last, if they cannot spend a career in congress, they will have less chance of enriching themselves in what should be public service.

  • Kyle

    pzatchok, if that were true then why do term limits for the President? Also am not calling for a 1 or 2 term run, House term limits could be 3 terms or so and Senate probably 2 terms is sufficient. That is still 6-8 years in the house and 12 in the senate. Look how long Schumer has been in or McConnell, these two along have a combined tenure in congress longer that most people have been alive. If we had term limits then we would have been done with Biden back in the 80s. Take the perpetual re-election campaigns off the table and see how they really vote. And force these career politicians to make their millions in their own states.

    Also we are already being governed by Bureaucrats, they are the “4th Branch” or “2nd Legislative Branch” of government, see the CDC, and that must stop. What we need is a daylight clause amendment that would put all federal departments and bureaucratic rules and regulation under review requiring a reauthorization vote by congress every 5 or so years. Anything that doesn’t get reauthorized ends.

  • Mark

    This funding proposal for NASA buildings will make a perfect footnote in a future historian’s ‘End of the Global American Empire’ series. The future will be laughing at us.

  • What a joke. But then, as I said, this is the Congress Americans have chosen, so that means not only is Congress a joke, so are the American people.

    Robert, I couldn’t agree more.

    It finally dawned on me, just after this nation turned around and elected a socialist-in-well-creased-pants in 2008 – after thirty years of successful application of conservative economic principles – that our leaders are a reflection of the expectations of We The People.

    It has been said that politics is downstream from culture, and for a century we have been blurring out the idea that society thrives when:

    > Individual liberty is respected.
    > Individual responsibility is expected.

    And instead, we elect and re-elect leaders to solve our problems for us. We shirk our responsibility, and by doing so diminish our liberty, because we were/are told that only the “elite” – not ordinary people – have the answers we need and therefore should be granted our total, unquestioned trust to make decisions, even in areas where the real answer varies widely from person to person.

    And this same blurring has led the “elite” and their hangers-on to believe that they have the One True Way on any issue, which leads them to frame the debate not as Left vs. Right, but Normal vs. The Evil Other that Must be Destroyed. We have seen where that can ultimately lead, in history … and what it is already leading to in the rise of blacklisting and cancel culture, without regard to fact and science.

    If we want to reverse this trend and make it stick, getting ordinary people to QUESTION the world around them, then build trust in their own insights and NOT delegate their decisions to others – even if that looks like more risk and effort for them – is essential.

  • Ray Van Dune

    The motto of the Washington state elections office is “Keep finding votes in King County (metro Seattle) until the Democrat is leading, then certify!” They live up to their motto!

  • Jay

    Ray, you damn well know that every cemetery in King County votes Democrat. Also they do not like to be called “Dead Voters”, they like to be called the “Living Impaired” according to the voter pamphlet. Why do you think King County is the last county to submit their votes?

  • D. Messier

    There’s no money in infrastructure bill for a second lander by Blue Origin. The lander being build by SpaceX is funded under a different bill.

  • George C

    Paying for a service that you need is often better than paying for an asset that immediately starts to decline in value and has other expenses. This article for example gives a figure of $500 million a year that Nasa paid for renting seats on Soyuz. You need accurate book keeping and good accounting services to make a wise choice in build vs but vs rent. Ownership is often emotion laden.

  • pawn

    NASA has been spending a lot of money on infrastructure ever since Shuttle Ops was shut down. It keeps them busy and looking like they are doing something. Spending money on new sewage plants, television studios and training facilities keeps the budget fat otherwise they would loose it. Keeping civil servants busy is their true mission these days. SpaceX is doing all the heavy lifting.

  • Gary H

    I would think that with the astronomical amounts recently tagged as ‘infrastructure’, they would be funding a moon base.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Gary H.

    That is an infrastructure initiative I could get behind.

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