The Planetary Society has called on the U.S. Administration to rebalance NASA’s portfolio of programs and missions so that Science is given 30 percent of the agency’s budget. “Science is the best place to invest in NASA,” Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye said, “In this era of constrained budgets, we must invest in areas with the greatest possible returns.”
The Society laid out its request in a letter to Jacob Lew, head of the Office of Management and Budget. (The letter was sent to Lew just before he became White House Chief of Staff and Jeffrey D. Zients was tapped to serve as acting director of OMB.)
“If NASA’s overall budget shrinks, we are concerned that the Science program will carry a disproportionate burden of any reduction, scaling back some of NASA’s most productive and important programs,” the letter states. “A healthy, robust NASA Science program, along with its attendant innovative technologies, will energize, engage, and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, educators, and the public.”
In recent years, NASA’s science programs have received between 24 and 28 percent of the agency’s budget, but financial pressures may force cuts to agency funding. An increase to 30 percent could allow NASA to keep alive a robust program of scientific exploration. Without such an increase, ambitious flagship missions, such as the Hubble Space Telescope and Cassini, may become things of the past.