Today, Thursday, Rep. Adam Schiff announced the House Appropriations Committee had passed an FY 2014 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations package that included $1.315 billion for planetary science within NASA’s budget. Earlier this year, it was announced that the Obama Administration was requesting $1.217 billion for planetary science.
With the bipartisan support of Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and ranking member Chaka Fattah (D-PA), and at the urging of Reps. Schiff and John Culberson (R-TX), the Appropriations Committee was able to restore almost $100 million to the planetary science budget, which will include funding for missions to Mars and Jupiter.
“The NASA portion of the bill that was just passed goes a long way towards plugging the funding shortfall that threatens our leadership in the exploration of the solar system,” said Rep. Schiff. “We were able to restore almost $100 million in funding for planetary science, which will allow NASA to begin important work on the top priorities of the scientific community – a Mars 2020 rover that will advance the goal of a sample return, and a mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Without continuing work on these missions, we will lose our talented engineers and scientists to other endeavors. And once we lose the talent pool that knows how to land rovers on other planets, it will be extremely difficult to reconstitute.”
Schiff continued, “Despite bipartisan and bicameral support for our exploration of Mars and the Outer Planets, the Administration keeps presenting budgets that cannot support our national goals in planetary science and our leadership in exploring the solar system. I am especially pleased that the bill’s report contains a specific directive to NASA regarding the 2020 rover and the Jupiter-Europa mission.”
In the report on the CJS Appropriations bill, the Committee pushed back strongly against the Administration’s request, saying that the “damaging and disproportionate cuts [were] without justification.” Planetary science has largely been regarded as one of NASA’s most efficient and successful programs. The full committee report – detailing funding levels for different missions and programs – can be found here.