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I am now in the third week of my annual February birthday fund-raising drive. The first two weeks were good, but not record-setting.


There are still two weeks left in this campaign however. If you have been a regular reader and a fan of my work and have not yet donated or subscribed, please consider doing so. I take no ads, I keep the website clean from pop-ups and annoying demands (most of the time). Thus, I depend entirely on my readers to support me. Though this means I am sacrificing some income, it also means that I remain entirely independent from outside pressure. By depending solely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, no one can threaten me with censorship. You don't like what I write, you can simply go elsewhere.


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Surprise! NASA’s ’23 budget request asks for more money!

In releasing its budget request this week to Congress for the 2023 fiscal year, NASA did what it routinely does each year, ask for more money, this time asking for an 8% increase from what Congress appropriated last year.

NASA’s FY2023 budget request is $25.974 billion versus the FY2022 appropriation of $24.041 billion. NASA had requested $24.802 billion in large part to pay for the Artemis program to return astronauts to the lunar surface, but Congress wasn’t willing to allocate that much. While supportive of Artemis and NASA’s many other science, aeronautics and technology programs, there is a limit as to how much Congress is willing to invest.

NASA is requesting not just another boost in FY2023, but in the “out years” thereafter, rising to $28 billion in FY2027, though much of that purchasing power likely will be lost to inflation.

…In essence, the agency wants more money for everything it is doing.

The budget request also asks again for Congress to terminate the SOFIA airborne telescope, which NASA contends is not producing enough science to justify its $80 million annual cost. Congress has repeatedly refused to do so in past years. As should be expected, Congress will likely not cancel SOFIA again, as it likes to spend money we don’t have.

The goal of the increased funding for Artemis is also to continue the SLS program for many years to come. Expect Congress to also fund this in the coming few years, though the long term future of SLS remains in doubt, especially if SpaceX’s Starship begins flying. Artemis won’t be cancelled by our spendthrift Congress, but Congress will likely decide to shift that spending to Starship and other private rockets rather than SLS as those private rockets come on line.

All in all, expect Congress to give NASA more cash, but not as much as the agency requests.

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


  • Ray Van Dune

    “Congress will likely decide to shift that spending to Starship and other private rockets rather than SLS as those private rockets come on line.”

    Congress? The United States Congress? Maybe as a way to support Boeing and Lockheed, while SpaceX provides better service at lower cost. Let me know when somebody else’s rocket starts launching people and payloads to orbit, and then re-landing for another mission. I won’t be holding my breath.

  • David M. Cook

    Didn‘t they spend $25 Billion on the entire Apollo program? (I know it was in 1965 dollars, but still!) At least we got a return on the investment! What does $25 bil buy you today? Another year of delays piled on more delays! Nothing ever (or rarely) gets done. What a waste!

  • LocalFulff

    Anton Petrov’s youtube channel is of very high quality, in all my experience, when it comes to verifying sources. Here he summarizes the Chinese 5-year plan for their space program (unfortunately not many interplanetary probes beyond Mars, but otherwise pretty great):

    Another recent video of his daily paper based ones talks about Odd Radio Circles. So called because of the uncertainty of science, until that recent hypothesis which he explains was now introduced. Before that they were only identified as inexplicable odd circles of radio emissions in the images. These five things that were discovered only 3 years ago were utterly mysterious. Since the distance to them was unknown, their diameters were in traditional astronomical ways estimated to be between 2 light years and 2 MILLION light years. If I as a low level business manager would’ve made such a prognosis, my boss would’ve fired me as much as whatever thing caused these strange flames. That’s why I regret not having tried to become an astronomer.

    “- Can you certainly exclude more than 2 million light years in diameter?”
    “- As an astronomer I would NEVER exclude pi.”

  • Richard M

    “Congress will likely decide to shift that spending to Starship and other private rockets rather than SLS as those private rockets come on line.”

    We can hope. But it won’t come easy. SpaceX doesn’t employ enough people in the right congressional districts.

  • Richard M


    “Didn‘t they spend $25 Billion on the entire Apollo program? (I know it was in 1965 dollars, but still!)”

    Casey Dreier of the Planetary Society just released a paper on that, actually. (It just cleared peer review). The total he came up with, adjusted to 2020 dollars, is $257 billion for all of Apollo. (On the other hand, he discovered that Apollo missions actually cost LESS than Artemis missions will.)

    I still say NASA does a creditable job in what it delivers for most of its science programs. Yes, the flagship missions are more prone to cost overruns (Europa Clipper just took another hit this week), and yes, it’s overdue for NASA to consider more cost-effective, commercially oriented ways to do remote science, but . . . they’re still world class on planetary science and astrophysics. It shouldn’t surprise us that the programs where Congress has the most fingerprints are also the least cost effective.

  • Richard M

    P.S. Link for the Casey Dreier paper on Apollo here:

    “An Improved Cost Analysis of the Apollo Program”
    Casey Dreier

    (It’s free to access.)

  • Concerned

    Bob—it’s the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy—SOFIA

    But like Sophia Loren, it’s past it’s prime.

  • Concerned. Oy. I knew that. I just sometimes type first and think later. Fixed.

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