The House Appropriations Committee released Wednesday morning its proposed Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which includes $17.573 billion for NASA, $138 million less than the administration’s budget proposal. This budget includes $1.025 billion for Orion and $1.857 billion for the Space Launch System, of which just over $400 million would go to ground systems development. Commercial crew funding isn’t spelled out in the bill; after accounting for SLS and Orion, there’s $830 million left for commercial crew and exploration R&D (funded at $334 million in the administration’s request) in the exploration account.
The bill does go into some detail about planetary science spending, which would get $1.4 billion, or $200 million more than requested by the administration. The bill specifies that $150 million would be set aside for something called “Mars Next Decade”, which apparently refers to the planetary science decadal survey’s top priority flagship-level mission of a rover to collect samples for eventual return to Earth. The funds would not be released “unless and until the National Research Council has certified to the Committees on Appropriations that the chosen mission concept will lead to the accomplishment of Mars sample return as described in the most recent planetary science decadal survey,” the draft bill states. If the NRC finds that is not possible, the funds would be used instead to begin planning for a Europa orbiter mission, the second-highest priority from the decadal.
Absent from the House version of the bill is the transfer of NOAA satellite programs, as the Senate did this week in its version of the budget.
The CJS subcommittee is scheduled to markup its appropriations bill tomorrow morning at 9:30 am; that hearing will not be webcast.