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Press Room

The Planetary Society Supports FY2016 Budget Request for NASA

CEO Bill Nye, Space Advocate Casey Dreier Comment

PRESS STATEMENT
02/04/2015

CONTACT:
Erin Greeson
Email: erin.greeson@planetary.org
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Pasadena, CA (February 4, 2015) – In response to President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 Presidential Budget Request, The Planetary Society issued the following statement:

The Planetary Society supports the Administration’s FY2016 budget request for NASA, and is particularly supportive of the 2.9% increase to NASA’s top-line.

"The world expects a lot from NASA. This small increase will have a big impact," said Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society. "We are especially excited about missions that will advance the search for life out there. Such a discovery would change the world."

The Society urges Congress to meet or exceed this top-line during the appropriations process, and to stave off cuts threatened by sequestration that would cripple recent progress in space.

The FY2016 request also represents a turning point for the future of solar system exploration. The new start for a major mission for Europa begins what will be one of the most important missions in NASA’s history. A mission to Europa commits NASA to a return to the gas giants after the end of Juno and Cassini in 2017, preventing the "fade to dark" of outer planets exploration. We commend the Administration for requesting this new start and urge swift development to support a launch in the early 2020s. We do, however, question the adequacy of amounts requested for Europa during the early stages of its development.

"This is a major achievement for the members of the Planetary Society and for the public. Tens of thousands of individuals around the world wrote to Congress and White House last year asking for this mission to Europa," said Casey Dreier, director of advocacy for The Planetary Society. "We’ve heard the message from our members that Europa must be a priority for NASA, and we are pleased to see the Administration take the same view."

The request is mixed for the remainder of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. For the fourth time in a row the Administration has proposed cuts to planetary science from the previous year’s congressional appropriation. The Planetary Society remains committed to a planetary science budget of at least $1.5 billion to support a balanced program of large, medium, and small missions, as well as steady technology development and scientific research. Though we acknowledge and welcome the fact that this is the largest request for the Planetary Science Division in four years, the proposal does not represent the balanced program recommended by the National Research Council’s decadal survey.

Most troublingly, the FY2016 budget request removes funding for the Opportunity rover and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. We urge Congress to work to rectify these unfortunate steps, and to preserve the operating missions that are rated highly in the independent planetary science senior review process.

We do appreciate the Administration’s request to continue development of the Mars 2020 rover, maintain all other existing missions, and increase the cadence of Discovery missions to one every three years. Other aspects of the budget are strong as well, including the request for commercial crew, which preserves competition and redundancy by supporting two service providers.

The President’s FY2016 budget request is a turning point in the recent history of NASA. After years of diminishing requests, the White House’s proposal to increase NASA’s budget represents its acceptance of what has long been acknowledged by the space community: NASA needs additional funding to succeed in its missions. Congressional action in FY2015 suggests the same. We resolutely support this increase, as well as the historic new commitment to Europa.

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About The Planetary Society

The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.

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