2014 NASA Budget Cuts $200 million from Planetary Science -- Again
I share the sad news that the White House has doubled down on their previous effort to gut NASA's planetary science program. They request $1.218 billion for 2014, more than $200 million less than what Congress approved this year.
But it gets worse.
That number, $1.218 billion, includes two line items entirely new to Planetary Science that don't support any new or existing missions: direct funding for Plutonium-238 production and additional funding for asteroid detection in support of NASA's new Asteroid Retrieval Mission.
Now, we need both of these (Plutonium especially, one of the bright points of the budget), but the additional money is a budgeting trick: Plutonium funding was moved over from its old home in the Department of Energy's budget; the money for asteroid detection is new, but it doesn't support spacecraft mission development.
So the actual number for apples-to-apples comparison of the budget is $1.148 billion, almost the same as the Administration projected last year.
They did not listen to Congress. They did not listen the tens of thousands of emails, faxes, letters, or calls sent to them last year.