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posted by janrinok on Thursday May 10 2018, @02:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the here,-take-my-money dept.

House spending bill offers $21.5 billion for NASA in 2019

A House appropriations bill released May 8 offers more than $21.5 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2019, a significant increase over both what the agency received in 2018 and what the White House proposed for 2019.

While there is no mention of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) or the possibility of raising the James Webb Space Telescope's $8 billion spending cap, there is plenty of money for a Europa mission (a favorite of Rep. John Culberson) and continued development of the Space Launch System (SLS):

The bill, though, does specify funding for some programs. It calls for spending $545 million on the Europa Clipper mission and $195 million for a follow-on lander. NASA requested only $264.7 million for Europa Clipper and nothing for the lander. NASA said in the budget proposal it was seeking to launch Europa Clipper in 2025 on a commercial vehicle, while the bill calls for the use of the Space Launch System and a launch by 2022. In its budget proposal, NASA estimated needing $565 million in 2019 to keep Europa Clipper on track for a 2022 launch but warned of "potential impacts to the rest of the Science portfolio" if funded at that level.

The bill includes $1.35 billion for Orion and $2.15 billion for SLS, the same funding those exploration programs received in 2018. NASA requested slightly less for each: $1.164 billion for Orion and $2.078 billion for SLS. The bill fully funds the administration's request for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, at $504 million in 2019.

WFIRST was given $150 million in a 2018 omnibus spending bill, staving off its possible cancellation, but its future may still be in peril due to JWST delays:

Congress, in the 2018 omnibus spending bill, provided $150 million for WFIRST, which many interpreted as a rebuke to the administration's proposal even though Congress had yet to take up the 2019 budget. However, Congress passed the 2018 omnibus spending bill just days before NASA revealed another delay, and potential cost overrun, for JWST, complicating the future of WFIRST.

As with PACE, work on WFIRST is continuing for 2018 as the appropriations process for 2019 plays out in Congress. The mission's next major review, for Key Decision Point B, is scheduled for May 22, which will allow it go into Phase B of its development.

"We were funded fully through FY '18," said Jeff Kruk, WFIRST project scientist, at the Space Studies Board meeting May 3. "We have to be ready to proceed should Congress decide to continue funding the mission. The only way we will meet the cost cap is if we stay on schedule."


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday May 10 2018, @05:43AM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday May 10 2018, @05:43AM (#677757) Journal

    Northrop Grumman, known for fucking up both Zuma and JWST (in slow motion). If JWST fails and Northrop Grumman gets blamed, that's a cool $10 billion blasted away.

    And as for Falcon Heavy as a lifter for Europa Clipper:

    A direct shot of a six-ton satellite to Jupiter requires a rocket with a lot of muscle. During the briefing, Culberson was told no commercial rocket can do this, even SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which flew for the first time in February. (It is not clear whether NASA specifically asked SpaceX about the Falcon Heavy and Europa, as Goldstein said figures for all the commercial rockets were provided by a competitor to SpaceX, United Launch Alliance.) In the charts shown in the JPL conference room, engineers had modeled a Falcon Heavy with a small “kick stage,” but they had not considered alternatives, such as a Falcon Heavy with a more powerful Centaur upper stage for a direct-to-Jupiter mission.

    Falcon Heavy is almost as powerful as SLS Block 1. 63.8 tons to LEO vs 70. But that gap may be narrowing even more since the Falcon Heavy test flight used older Falcon 9 components. In about 14 hours from now, SpaceX will launch its very first Falcon 9 Block 5, which has about 7-8% more thrust than Block 4 (FH center core was a Block 3, not sure about the rest). Future Falcon Heavy rockets built with the Block 5 might be able to match the SLS Block 1. And SLS Block 1 is going to be the only version flying for years (if it does at all).

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