Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Casey Profile Picture Thumbnail

House Committee Approves Smallest NASA Budget Since 1986

Posted by Casey Dreier

12-07-2013 12:40 CDT

Topics: FY2014 NASA Budget

The House Appropriations committee, apparently feeling nostalgic for the Karate Kid and warm leggings, just approved the smallest NASA budget (in terms of purchasing power) since 1986.

The subcommittee responsible for NASA's budget approved $16.6 billion for the space agency in 2014. While SpaceNews reported this as the smallest budget since 2007, it's actually much worse if you correct for inflation.

NASA's Budget, 1982 - 2015, Adjusted for Inflation

NASA's Budget, 1982 - 2015, Adjusted for Inflation
NASA's budget since the early '80s, adjusted for inflation to 2013 dollars. This includes the 2015 as passed by Congress in December of 2014. Data available at as a Google Spreadsheet.

NASA is also tasked with far more goals now than in 1986, including Earth Science, Planetary Science, Heliophysics, and astrophysics science, building a new heavy lift rocket, a new crew vehicle, the James Webb Space Telescope, supporting commercial crew development by private industries, and supporting the International Space Station.

While you hear a lot of lawmakers say that federal agencies must "do more with less," my guess is that most will do less with less. We're already seeing a big drop-off of future solar system exploration missions due to tighter budget, this will likely continue if this budget is enacted.

The Senate still needs to weigh in, so this House budget is not the last word in the matter, but it's deeply troubling. You can't turn NASA on and off like a spigot. Cuts now will echo through the coming decades.

See other posts from July 2013


Or read more blog entries about: FY2014 NASA Budget


Daniel Ruplinger: 07/12/2013 02:19 CDT

I liked the video, miss the 80's but not the NASA budgets!

Andrew Castillo: 07/12/2013 03:05 CDT

I guess that when you follow the money, democratic administrations are not so pro-science after all.

Casey Dreier: 07/12/2013 03:40 CDT

@Andrew: Note that this budget is from the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The President's request for NASA in Fy14 was $17.7 billion, not great, obviously, but better. I don't think this has anything to do with science, exactly, so much as a lack of funds to work with given the House's commitment to the so-called "Ryan Budget".

Daniel Ruplinger: 07/12/2013 04:06 CDT

I guess when follow the money or simply look at the graph you will see that democratic administrations supported Nasa at some of the highest levels (1993-2001 and 2009-present) the presidents proposed '14 is $17.7 billion. You'll notice that budgets do steadily decline when republicans took control of the house in 1995 and 2011... This article is in reference to the $16.6 billion Nasa budget authorized by the republican controlled House of Representatives without a single democratic vote.

Frank Holbrook: 07/12/2013 05:11 CDT

" guess is that most will do less with less." Brilliant! You summed up what has been happening the whole time. The sad truth is we have one heck of a deficit, and it needs to be addressed. The democrats and the republicans both have their own backers to satisfy (especially the ones that 'scratch back' in reciprocation). I always fantasized that the public one day would have a list of programs on the income tax form where they could direct some of their money. If that ever happened, I believe NASA would triple in size. I am holding out for Commercial Crew Companies to eventually get through to congress that there are some benefits in the US space program. Or maybe they think the US shouldn't have developed the railroad system or air mail.

Alfred McEwen: 07/13/2013 10:47 CDT

Can they take us back to 1968 next time? That would improve both the NASA budget and the music.

David Frankis: 07/15/2013 04:07 CDT

Frank Holbrook: "The sad truth is we have one heck of a deficit" Not any more. After the 'cliff' deal and the sequester, as well as the earlier deals that led to them, the budget is much closer to balance. I won't try and insert hyperlinks here, but Ezra Klein's Wonkblog (at the WaPo) and Paul Krugman have addressed this fairly extensively.

Michael Poston: 07/15/2013 10:45 CDT

An additional thing to keep in mind when talking about deficit and NASA: US spending increased largely during the glorious economic times of the 90's, but during this time NASA's budget did not increase. IF US spending is out of control now, it is certainly not NASA's fault, so why should NASA be asked to bear any burden of 'fixing' the deficit? On the contrary, NASA has been shown to increase economic growth (though maybe only on the longer term?).

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.


Featured Images

LightSail 2 and Prox-1
Bill Nye at LightSail 2 pre-ship review
LightSail 2 pre-ship review team photo
Swirling maelstrom
More Images

Featured Video

Class 9: Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!