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Casey DreierApril 6, 2013

Will the Sequester Take an Outsized Bite from Planetary Science at NASA?

Some troubling reports from SpaceNews, reporting that despite a $223 million boost from Congress, NASA's Planetary Science Division may not be allowed to use that money so the agency can prevent cuts in other programs.

From the (paywalled) article:

NASA's Planetary Science Division, which Congress favored with a $200 million increase in the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R. 933) that President Barack Obama signed into law March 26, is expected to lose most if not all of that money as sequestration siphons some $900 million off the agency’s enacted $17.5 billion top line.

In order to protect higher-priority programs...NASA will be cutting lower-priority programs, including planetary science, by more than 5 percent.

The article goes on to say that no one knows how much money Planetary Science will have (or not have) until the Agency's operating plan is submitted to Congress next month. Remember, this is the 2013 budget that passed Congress two weeks ago, not the 2014 proposal that will come out next week.

Obviously, this is hugely troubling news if this comes to pass. We're following this extremely closely. Congress made a strong statement of support for Planetary Science by rejecting the proposed cut this year. For NASA to "reprogram" that money out to other priorities would be heartbreaking.

More to come.

Read more: Space Policy, FY2013 NASA Budget

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Casey Dreier

Director of Space Policy for The Planetary Society
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