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A Victory for Exploration

Planetary Science Funding is Restored for 2013

Posted by Casey Dreier

21-03-2013 22:22 CDT

Topics: FY2014 NASA Budget, Space Policy, Plutonium-238

I'm breaking out of a long-planned vacation to share some great news with everyone. Congress just passed a bill that achieves essentially every major policy goal of the Planetary Society in regards to NASA's Planetary Science program.

On March 21st, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR933, the Senate's version of a spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the year. Contained in this bill is new language restoring more than $200 million to NASA's Planetary Science program, reversing the vast majority of cuts proposed in President Obama's 2013 budget request. The President still needs to sign this bill to make it law, but that is expected to happen within the next few days.

The bill also specifically funds Plutonium-238 production, required for deep-space missions, and pre-formulation activities for a major mission to Europa. Also restored is a significant funding for the small planetary mission program, Discovery, which should increase the pace of these small, effective missions and move the next opportunity up to 2014 (from 2015 or 2016). I discuss in detail all of benefits here, in an earlier post.

This funding is still subject to the sequester, as is NASA's entire budget, which suffers an overall cut of almost $1 billion in this bill from the President's 2013 budget request. There is still a long way to go to ensure a strong future of exploration in the United States. We've won the battle, but 2014 and the future years remain ahead.

But still, this is huge news. I can't thank you enough for the work you've done in reaching out to Congress and the President to help defend this effective, exciting, and affordable division within NASA. Over sixty-thousand of our members and other supporters wrote and called their representatives and the President in support of this issue. Congress heard you. Our voices made a difference.

We need to keep this momentum. Your support of our Advocacy program and membership make this possible.

We'll keep you posted as we learn the exact details of what this means for NASA. But for now, I say thank you again, because I feel I can't say it enough.

See other posts from March 2013


Or read more blog entries about: FY2014 NASA Budget, Space Policy, Plutonium-238


Jeff Thompson: 03/21/2013 11:39 CDT

Wow! What a tremendous relief! I'm breaking out the champagne!

Stephen: 03/22/2013 10:35 CDT

Great work!

John Burch: 03/22/2013 09:19 CDT

Well done to everyone involved. We can make a difference if we pull together

Enzo: 03/23/2013 10:58 CDT

This is really excellent news. However, regarding the Europa missions, after witnessing so many false starts, I will hold my celebrations until it's well on the way to launch.

Pluto: 03/25/2013 08:45 CDT

Great news! But don't forget what you've learned from the lobbying. You'll soon need to do this again, the federal debt problems are just getting worse.

Casey Dreier: 03/25/2013 10:46 CDT

@Enzo: We share your skepticism. A mission to Europa is something we'll continue to advocate for and publicize (just check out our latest issue of The Planetary Report). @Pluto: You are exactly right. We'll in the process of building a stronger, more consistent, and relentless lobbying program. We're not going to let up anytime soon. We'll depend on your support to keep the pressure on!

Leonidas Papadopoulos: 03/25/2013 10:54 CDT

Although these are excellent news, I share the skepticism about the Europa mission. I will trully celebrate when it's off the launch pad. And what about a Titan probe? It wasn't selected last year for the go-ahead and it should be launched during this decade, or we'll lose the direct line-of-sight trajectory to Titan due to orbital positions, and then the mission could take just another decade to get there! I wholeheartidly love Mars exploration, but let's go to Europa and Titan already!

Bob Ware: 03/25/2013 04:15 CDT

Great news!!! Thanks Casey!

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