We’re here to help you! Despite offering NASA only $100 million more for the program, the Senate Appropriations committee has directed the agency to award a second manned lunar lander contract, in addition to the one it gave SpaceX in April.
On Tuesday (Oct. 18), the Senate Appropriations Committee — the largest U.S. Senate committee that oversees all discretionary spending legislation in the Senate — released a draft report of nine appropriations bills for the fiscal year 2022 which included funding for NASA, according to SpaceNews.
The appropriators, in the report, state that NASA’s HLS program is not underfunded, despite the agency’s previous claims to the contrary. As shown in the report, the bill includes $24.83 billion for NASA, which is just slightly more than the $24.8 billion that NASA requested, and a $100 million increase in funding for HLS.
“NASA’s rhetoric of blaming Congress and this Committee for the lack of resources needed to support two HLS teams rings hollow,” the report states. The committee added that “having at least two teams providing services using the Gateway should be the end goal of the current development program,” referencing NASA’s Gateway, a planned lunar space station.
It might be possible for the increase in funding to cover a second contract, if that contract was awarded to Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos has made it clear that he would be willing to waive as much as $2 billion of the price for the contract, using his own ample funds to make up the difference. Whether that is enough to build it, with the $100 million the Senate appropriated, is unclear.
This bill of course has to pass the Senate, be approved as written by the House, and then signed by the President. These directives and budget changes thus might not end up in the final appropriations bill.
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