SOFIA Wins Reprieve in Draft House Appropriations Report

SOFIA Wins Reprieve in Draft House Appropriations Report

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) would be saved from termination if language in the House Appropriations Committee’s draft report on NASA’s FY2015 funding bill survives the legislative process.

President Obama is proposing that the 747-based infrared astronomy telescope be mothballed because NASA cannot afford its 80 percent share of the $100 million per year operating costs.  It is a joint project with NASA’s German counterpart, DLR, which pays the other 20 percent.

SOFIA has strong support in Congress and the draft of the report to accompany the FY2015 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill released today is more evidence of that.   The President’s budget request includes $12 million to mothball SOFIA.  The House committee’s draft, which will be marked up tomorrow, adds $70 million, bringing the total in line with the $84 million allocated to the mission in FY2014.  

Language in the draft report specifically states that “The Committee does not accept NASA’s request to terminate support” for SOFIA and also directs NASA to continue looking for additional partners. 

Overall, the committee is recommending $17.896 billion for NASA, $435 million more than the President’s request of $17.461 billion.  SOFIA is part of the astrophysics budget, for which $607.3 million is requested.  The committee’s recommendation for that part of NASA’s budget is $680 million, an increase of $72.7 million, which also covers a proposed restoration of $5 million for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Full committee markup of the bill is scheduled for 10:00 am ET tomorrow, May 8.

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