An additional $500 million budget proposal for NASA in 2016 will be added to the already approved 2015 budget. NASA chief Charles Bolden says, this will help NASA to pursue its Mars project.
Boyden presented the $18.5 billion budget request today, Feb. 2. This includes for the development of a mission to Europa, Jupiter’s moon, and the asteroid redirect mission or ARM of NASA. ARM is important in helping develop a possible manned mission to Mars in the coming years, most specifically, in 2030s
“NASA is firmly on a journey to Mars,” Bolden said. “Make no mistake, this journey will help guide and define our generation.”
There’s a lot of sacrifice to be made in exchange, if the new fiscal budget of 2016 stands, as it is now. With the approval of the proposed budget as it is, NASA may have to scrap the Opportunity rover’s mission on Mar’s in 2016. “Signs of age, including recent problems with its flash memory,” is the main reason of Opportunity’s eventual retirement. No budget is intended for the continuance of this long-running space program.
There’s no definite plan however, as of this time, to terminate the program, officials said. David Radzanowski, NASA’s Chief Financial Officer said that they will still have to make more studies concerning the planned termination of the program next year whether it’s still be sensible to for the rover program to continue. The program is supposed to end this year, but they found additional financing to keep it alive in the meantime.
Another program to be scrapped, with the approval of NASA budget, is the agency’s activity for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or LRO, which has been orbit in moon since 2009. It is helping scientists to gain more knowledge about water in moon and also mapping the moon’s surface.
The Orion Program, intended for human space travel to places like Mars and Space Launch System mega-rocket are funded and Space Launch System mega-rocket are included in the budget. The former is to be allocated 1,1billion and the latter 1.35 billion. Both programs have allocations in 2015 budget.
Boyden is optimistic about NASA’s future.
“That the idea we’re adrift is an empty hook trying to catch yesterday’s fish,” Bolden said. “I couldn’t be more excited about our future. We’re making steady progress and continuing to reach for new heights.”
The upcoming budget proposal has also funding for the ongoing Commercial Crew Program. This is intended for private companies to create space programs which can shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station or ISS. The program is getting more money this fiscal year to the tune of $1.2 billion compared to the $805 million allotment in 2015. Both Boeing and SpaceX are given the job with bringing astronauts to the ISS under the program starting 2017.
NASA has earmarked $5.3 billion for science missions, which includes $620 million for more development of the James Webb Space Telescope which is expected to replace the aging Hubble Telescope in 2018.
For planetary science, also under the science budget, it is getting a funding worth $1.36 billion. Included in the program is NASAs plan to send a mission to Europa, which is reflected on the budget sheet.
Additional financial request would be to develop the next batch of Landsat satellites, Earth-gazing missions that will help track the planet’s climate and deforestations, including other things.
“I can unequivocally say that the state of NASA is strong,” Bolden said.