Aeronautics and science take a bite out of exploration

The science, state, justice, and commerce subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, whose jurisdiction includes NASA, marked up their appropriations bill on Wednesday. Details about the bill are scant, based principally on this statement in the press release about the bill:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration receives $16.7 billion, $462 million above the FY06 base level. Funds the President’s vision for space exploration at $3.8 billion; provides full request for the Space Shuttle; and restores $100 million above the request to aeronautics research, and $75 million above the request for space science.

$16.7 billion is about $100 million less than the President’s original proposal, and it appears that the exploration program suffered the biggest cut, losing about $200 million, with most of that going to aeronautics and space science. (That suggests that other programs also lost month to account for the overall $100-million cut, but the full appropriations bill is not yet available on Thomas.) The Planetary Society, in a statement, notes that $50 million of the additional space science funding will go to research and analysis programs, while $15 million would be used start a new Europa orbiter mission. (As the press release notes, one of the members of the appropriations subcommittee, John Culberson, has been perhaps the strongest Congressional proponent for a Europa mission.)

In his opening statement, subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) said that despite the cut to exploration programs, “This level ensures that the President’s vision for space exploration is adequately funded while at the same time restoring a portion of the damaging cuts that were proposed for NASA’s aeronautics research and science programs.” The full appropriations committee has not announced when it will take up the bill.

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