Statement on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024

Press Statement
March 07, 2024

Danielle Gunn
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Pasadena, CA (March 7th, 2024) — The Planetary Society, the world’s largest independent space advocacy organization, issued the following regarding the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024, which includes the final compromise funding legislation for NASA in FY 2024:

"The Planetary Society is dedicated to the scientific exploration of the planets, the defense of Earth from asteroids, and the search for life. With these priorities in mind, our reaction to NASA's FY 2024 congressional budget is decidedly mixed.

We are pleased to see an FY 2024 appropriation given recent political uncertainty, and encouraged that Congress ultimately found a bipartisan compromise to fund NASA. However, the rigid limits placed on discretionary spending led to a 2% cut relative to 2023. Combined with recent inflation, NASA has now lost roughly $1 billion in buying power since its peak in 2020.

We are already seeing the consequences across the space program: staff layoffs at JPL, contractor layoffs at Goddard, the cancellation of major programs and the severe delays of others. These disruptions will continue and worsen unless Congress changes course and reinvests in our nation's civil space industry.

NASA's science directorate was, unfortunately, singled out for more than half a billion dollars in cuts, absorbing nearly the entire topline cut to the agency. This, in turn, was directed purely at the Planetary Science Division and the Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign, the highest-priority planetary project of this decade. While Congress provided MSR with flexibility in its funding in 2024, and — crucially — emphasized its priority role in the program, the $483 million cut to the planetary division's topline effectively ensures that MSR remains on ice for the remainder of the fiscal year. Every other NASA science division maintained their 2023 funding levels or grew slightly. Raiding one division to support others is not a sustainable path forward for any decadal priority nor for balance within NASA's science directorate.

There are bright spots in this legislation. Notably, the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor was fully funded to keep it on track for a 2028 launch. NEO Surveyor will provide a critical service to humanity by finding more than 90% of "city killer"-sized asteroids within a decade of its launch.

We also commend the support for NASA's Discovery and New Frontiers missions, which are scientist-led, competitively selected projects that achieve high-impact science at moderate cost. In particular, we are pleased to see language encouraging NASA to launch the VERITAS mission to Venus by the end of the decade and for the increased funding afforded to the Dragonfly mission to Titan.

Another positive outcome is that the Habitable Worlds Observatory, the highest-priority astrophysics project for the coming decade, also received initial funding and an official program office at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

The White House and Congress have directed NASA to pursue the most ambitious space program since the Apollo era. And while no one expects Apollo-era budgets, steady growth that outpaces inflation will be necessary to succeed. Cutting funding to NASA during this critical period undermines efforts to return humans to the Moon, return samples from Mars, search for exoplanets, and pursue exciting new science. We urge Congress to reverse these cuts in the coming fiscal year."

Press Resources

Casey Dreier, Chief of Space Policy, is available for interviews. Please arrange with Danielle Gunn, chief communications officer, at [email protected]

Resource: NASA’s FY 2024 Budget History

About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit