Press Release

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Responds to President’s FY 2021 Budget Request

By SpaceRef Editor
February 10, 2020
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The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (Coalition) welcomes the President’s FY 2021 Budget Request (PBR) with a proposed increase for the NASA top line to $25.246 billion (B) dollars. The proposal marks a milestone for NASA, with the highest funding level proposed by any Administration for the space agency since the Apollo era. As such, it clearly reflects the Administration’s priorities and signals the President’s support of the Artemis program and the return of Americans – the first woman, and next man – to the surface of the Moon, as well as a vision for Mars beyond. In addition, the PBR includes out-year budget targets. For the period of FY 2021-2025, the Artemis Program is proposed to receive $71B, with $21.258B of that for human lander systems.
The 2021 request allocates funding across exploration, science, and education consistent with the emphasis on Artemis, resulting in a “mixed bag” of proposed allocations, some of which repeat Administration policy in previous budget requests and is likely to meet the same Congressional reaction as in past years. Impacts include:
  • Science: A $832.4M reduction, with cuts of $203.7M to Earth Science, $53.8M to Planetary Science, $91.4M to Heliophysics and $475.2M to Astrophysics. The Administration once again proposes to terminate PACE, CLARREO and WFIRST, as it did the previous two years – program cuts that Congress has previously rejected. It also proposes to terminate the airborne SOFIA program. Despite the slight decrease, the Planetary Science line also includes an $84M increase for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program (CLPS), which means that the top line must absorb that increase against existing programs.
  • Aeronautics: A $35.1M increase advancing the X-59 and enabling the first test flight of the all-electric X-57 in 2021.
  • LEO and Space Operations – includes the International Space Station, Commercial Cargo, Commercial Crew and Commercial LEO development: A requested level of $4.1873B. This includes a $150M request for Commercial LEO, including efforts to spur business development and platforms in low Earth orbit.
  • Exploration Systems: A $540.3M reduction, with cuts of $328.8M to SLS, $6.2M to Orion, $205.3M to Exploration Ground Systems. The proposal defers the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS), which has been restored repeatedly by Congress.
  • Exploration R&D: This focus area received the majority of the proposed increase reflected in the top line, with a $2.7698B increase for the Human Landing System(s), a $289.3M increase for the Gateway, and $212M for Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities, including lunar life support and crew systems.
  • STEM Education: Terminates the office, as proposed previously and also rejected by Congress, with a proposed cut of $120M.
The majority of increase above the FY 2020 enacted level would go to funding public-private partnerships, notably the Human Landing System. The budget also includes much-needed support of infrastructure and environmental compliance across the agency ($539.1M). 
“We are pleased to see the top line increase in the President’s FY 2021 Budget Request and applaud the Administration on its commitment to the Artemis program. We support a robust approach to the development of platforms and capabilities that will begin at the Moon and extend to Mars,” said Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, president & CEO of the Coalition. “However, we are concerned about balancing the proposed schedule for a human lunar landing with the need to assure sustainability in a long-term program. Some of the proposed cuts in science and exploration may decrease rather than increase NASA’s flexibility to meet these goals. Finally, while we recognize the tough decisions that are needed to set and meet priorities, we support a robust STEM program at NASA. America – and NASA’s Moon-to-Mars effort – needs our next generation of scientists, researchers, and engineers. 
The Coalition and its member companies are committed to NASA, to the Artemis program, to the support of international and commercial partnerships, and to the return of U.S. astronauts on American vehicles to low Earth orbit and to deep space. We look forward to working with the agency to achieve these goals.”
About the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration is a national organization of more than 65 space industry businesses and universities focused on ensuring the United States remains a leader in space, science and technology. Based in Washington D.C., the Coalition engages in outreach and education reinforcing the value and benefits of human space exploration, space science and commerce with the public and our nation’s leaders, building lasting support for a long-term, sustainable, strategic direction for our nation’s space program.

SpaceRef staff editor.