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Committee Leaders: Space Exploration Must Be NASA's Priority

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015

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Members of the Subcommittee on Space today discussed fiscal year 2016 budget priorities with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. at a hearing on the Obama administration’s request. NASA is the world’s leading civilian space agency and the only U.S. federal agency responsible for space exploration.

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.): “NASA is at a crossroads. Unfortunately, the last six years featured drastic change with the cancellation of Constellation and uncertain direction with the president’s ever-changing asteroid initiative. Congress has been consistent in its guidance to NASA that it develop a long-term sustainable exploration strategy that is evolvable and flexible based on an uncertain budget environment. Recent announcements from NASA indicate that the agency is heeding that direction by working towards an architecture that can weather the storms of change that accompany new administrations. Administrator Bolden and his leadership team have a tough job.”

Although President Obama’s FY16 budget request of $18.53 billion includes an increase of $519 million over FY15 appropriated levels, no plans have been proposed to pay for or offset the increase. And despite overall increases, the president’s proposal underfunds the Space Launch System and Orion programs, both necessary for deep-space missions to Mars. The budget proposal would cut these human spaceflight programs by nearly $400 million.  

Full Committee Chairman Lamar Smith: “While there are some areas of agreement between the Committee and the administration in this budget, the president’s request regrettably changes agreed-upon national priorities. The Obama administration seems to have forgotten NASA’s priorities – and the main one is space exploration. There is a lack of balance in the overall science account request. Congressional guidance and the decadal surveys advocate for a balanced portfolio of science activities. Unfortunately, the president’s request does not adhere to that recommendation by the space experts. One of the most glaring examples is the disproportionate increase in the Earth Science Division that it receives at the expense of other science divisions and human and robotic space exploration.

“There are 13 other agencies involved in climate change research, but only one that is responsible for space exploration. The administration continues to starve NASA’s exploration programs to fund a partisan environmental agenda. NASA simply deserves better.” 

In the last eight years, the Obama administration has increased funding for the Earth Science Division by more than 63 percent, while consistently cutting funding for human space exploration programs.

For additional information on today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.

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