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NASA Budget Cuts Proposed for FY19

Silencing Science Tracker

NASA Budget Cuts Proposed for FY19

On February 12, 2018, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Trump administration’s proposal for the budget of the U.S. government for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The budget proposes a 0.3% reduction in funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (compared to FY2017 levels). When amounts allocated under the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act are taken into account, NASA would see its funding increase by approximately $0.3 billion or 1.3% (compared to FY2017).

Under the FY2019 budget proposal, funding for a number of key NASA programs would be reduced or terminated. Most notably, the budget proposes to end funding for the international space station (ISS) by 2025. It provides $150 million to begin a program that would encourage commercial development of capabilities that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) can use in place of the ISS. According to a report in the Washington Post, NASA is exploring the possibility of privatizing the ISS, with internal documents stating:

“The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform . . . NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”

The budget also proposes that NASA increase reliance on commercially-operated satellites. The budget would reduce funding for “NASA’s current Government owned and operated fleet of communications satellites and associated ground stations” and cancel, “pending an independent review, an overbudget project to upgrade the current” fleet.

The budget also proposes to cut funding for NASA’s Earth Sciences research program by approximately 6% and its Astrophysics program by 12%. Five Earth Science missions—PACE, OCO-3, RBI, DSCOVR Earthviewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder—would be terminated along with and one Astrophysics project—the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

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