Pasadena, CA (December 10, 2014) – In response to yesterday’s release of the so-called “CRomnibus” spending bill in the U.S. Congress, The Planetary Society’s CEO Bill Nye issued the following statement:
This is a great bill for NASA and its planetary exploration program. For three years in a row, the White House has requested cuts to NASA’s Planetary Science Division. And for three years in a row now, Congress has soundly rejected those cuts.
The President should take advantage of the bipartisan support for space exploration by restoring the Planetary Science Division to $1.5B next year within a larger NASA budget. We have the science, great minds, and technology in place to explore other worlds. We have the support of the Congress. We have the potential to search for life at destinations like Mars and Europa. Let’s get out there and see what's up.
This bill represents a bipartisan, bicameral consensus that NASA required a small increase in funding to achieve its programmatic goals. The top-line appropriation of $18.01 billion is nearly $550 million above the President’s request, which allowed for crucial increases to the Space Launch System, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, Planetary Science, Astrophysics, and Aeronautics without sacrificing the health of other programs. The Planetary Society supports passage of this bill.
The appropriation of $1.437 billion for the Planetary Science Division provides funding to continue operations of the Opportunity Mars rover, critical early engineering for the Mars 2020 rover, and advanced concept studies and technology development for a mission to Europa. This is just shy of The Planetary Society’s recommended $1.5 billion for planetary science, and a significant improvement over the President’s $1.28 billion request for FY2015.
Casey Dreier, the Society’s Director of Advocacy, adds:
The Planetary Society again thanks the Congress for supporting NASA and its planetary exploration program. Should this bill pass—and we hope it does—NASA will be in a stronger position going forward.
We strongly recommend that the White House seize this bipartisan opportunity to request an increase to NASA’s budget in FY2016, a new start for a mission to Europa, and a restoration of planetary science to historical levels of $1.5 billion per year.
Recent activity by The Planetary Society in support of Planetary Science and NASA: