President Requests $17.5 Billion FY2015 Base Budget for NASA Plus $886 Million in OGS Initiative

President Requests $17.5 Billion FY2015 Base Budget for NASA Plus $886 Million in OGS Initiative

President Obama’s FY2015 budget request for NASA of approximately $17.5 billion could be augmented by another $886 million if Congress goes along with his “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.”  The chances seem slim, but prognosticating what Congress will do is always a difficult task.

The base budget request is $17.461 billion, a reduction of $186 million from NASA’s FY2014 appropriation of $17.647 billion. 

It is essentially a status-quo request.  It funds the President’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), the Space Launch System/Orion program, commercial crew development, operations of the International Space Station, space and earth science programs, space technology development, and aeronautics.   The request does include funding for a planetary science mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa.  Congress added $75 million in FY2013 and $80 million in FY2014 for Europa studies and pre-formulation activities even though NASA did not request any funding for it.  NASA’s FY2015 budget request includes Europa for the first time at a comparatively modest level of $15 million, but it signifies the administration’s concession that it is a congressional priority, although it is funding only for FY2015.  None is included in the future year projections.

Full details on the budget requests for NASA and other agencies will be published in a week or so, but the documents released today provide a good top level view.  Here are the basics (totals may not add due to rounding).   Keep reading to learn how the $886 million in the OGS initiative would be spent if approved.

  • Science, $4.972 billion, broken down into the following subcategories:
    • Earth Science, $1.770 billion
    • Planetary Science, $1.280 billion
    • Astrophysics, $607 million
    • James Webb Space Telescope, $645 million
    • Heliophysics, $669 million
  • Human Exploration and Operations, $7.881 billion, broken down into the following subcategories   
    • Exploration Systems Development, $2.784 billion (SLS/Orion)
    • Commercial Spaceflight, $848 million (commercial crew)
    • Exploration Research and Development, $343 million
    • International Space Station, $3.051 billion
    • Space and Flight Support, $855 million
  • Space Technology, $706 million
  • Aeronautics, $551 million
  • Education, $89 million
  • Cross Agency Support, $2.779 billion
  • Construction & Environmental Compliance and Restoration (CECR), $446 million
  • Inspector General, $37 million

The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), like last year, is not identified as a separate budget line.  Its funding is part of the Asteroid Redirect Initiative, which is spread through Science, Space Technology and Exploration.  The FY2015 request for ARM is $133 million, with another $27 million elsewhere in the budget — for a total of $160 million for the Initiative as a whole.   For FY2014, NASA received $78 million for the mission plus $27 million for the other activities — a total of $105 million.

The President’s OGS Initiative proposes funding above the level of the budget caps that achieved bipartisan agreement in December 2013 after a long and acrimonious debate.  If approved, these additional funds, totaling $885.5 million, would be provided to NASA as part of an overall $56 billion spread across the government.

  • Science, $187.3 million
  • Aeronautics, $43.9 million
  • Space Technology, $100 million
  • Exploration, $350 million
  • Space Operations, $100.6 million
  • Education, $10 million
  • CECR, $93.7 million

Reaction to the President’s OGS Initiative by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) was swift and negative.  Noting that just three months ago the President signed those budget caps (for FY2014 and FY2015) into law, Rogers said it “is extremely disappointing that the President’s proposal today blatantly disregards the budget limits for FY2015. … Contrary to the President’s wish-list of additional spending, my Committee will abide by the budget caps….”

Correction:  NASA distinguishes between the Asteroid Redirect MISSION (ARM) and the Asteroid Redirect INITIATIVE.   ARM is part of the Initiative.  An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that the FY2014 appropriation for ARM was $105 million, but that is the figure for the Initiative. The FY2014 figure for ARM is $78 million.  That compares to $133 million requested for FY2015.

Also, the original version of this article stated the $15 million for Europa indicated that it was the start of a formal program.  However, when the details of the budget request were released on March 10, it became apparent that is not the case since there is no funding for it in the projection for future years.  This article has been updated accordingly.


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