$17.9-billion funding plan for NASA would boost planetary science
Advocates of space exploration say the funding proposal is notable for a significant increase in support for planetary science. The Orion, SLS and CCP programs account for $4.2 billion of the appropriation, while another $5.2 billion would be directed to science programs.
Of that latter sum, $1.45 billion is earmarked for planetary science, roughly $170 million more than was requested by the president's budget office. Committee members wrote that the president's funding request "imperiled" the continuation of critical research and development programs and needed to be increased.
Specifically, the committee said that no less than $100 million should be spent on the next robotic mission to Mars, Mars Rover 2020, which will be overseen by JPL. The spending proposal also designates $181 million for the study of outer planets, more than half of which is to be spent on planning a robotic mission to study Jupiter's moon, Europa, or a similar project.
"It's nice to know that planetary science is back," said U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a member of the Appropriations Committee. "This is really great news for JPL, but more broadly, great news for those who want America to maintain its preeminence in planetary science."