Congress, NASA

Mikulski wants to up the new budget to flat

While the White House proposed a fiscal year 2015 budget that cut NASA by about one percent over 2014, the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said Monday she will try to change that.

“My goal for NASA is to make sure we’re at least at the 2014 level,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in a speech Monday at the Maryland Space Business Roundtable at the University of Maryland, Space News reported. She added that she would try to even increase NASA’s budget above the $17.65 billion it received in fiscal year 2014, if the funding could be found.

Mikulski, in reports about the speech, wasn’t specific about what programs she thought needed that additional funding she promised. She spoke about the James Webb Space Telescope, but that program was fully funded in the request. She also, SpacePolicyOnline reported, supported the administration’s decision to seek an extension of International Space Station operations to at least 2024, and noted the cargo missions to the station launched by Orbital Sciences Corporation from Wallops Island, Virginia. She was “noncommittal” about the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the airborne observatory whose funding was cut in the budget proposal, telling Space News that “we’re doing our diligence” on the project.

Mikulski’s committee is not scheduled to hold a hearing on NASA’s budget request until May 1, when NASA administrator Charles Bolden is slated to testify before the committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) subcommittee, also chaired by Mikulski. However, later this morning, Bolden will appear before the House Appropriations Committee’s CJS subcommittee at 9:30 am, testifying about NASA’s FY15 budget proposal as well as “oversight of NASA security”, a hot topic for CJS subcommittee chairman Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).

9 comments to Mikulski wants to up the new budget to flat

  • The budget deal is made. If the drama is over a few measly millions, there isn’t much drama. Now that it is T-3 years and counting to the supposed launch of commercial crew, why doesn’t NASA focus what funds there are on fewer entrants, and actually get the mission done? I am flummoxed that there is no response to budget reality.

    • Coastal Ron

      amightywind said:

      I am flummoxed that there is no response to budget reality.

      I know, really huh?

      Building the biggest launcher in the world and not funding any payloads for it – we’re spending $Billions for no good reason. Is that insanity or what? ;-)

    • yg1968

      Because competition means better prices and a better product for NASA.

    • John Malkin

      Rocketplane Kistler is a good reason not to down select to a single company at this point. And in order to maintain redundancy, it would be prudent to have at least two providers. COTS was a resounding success despite much critical views comparing it to “faster, better, cheaper”. But it wasn’t the same because COTS forces the companies to have skin in the game. I think this is more important than even competition.

      None of the CCDev competitors are in danger of missing the same milestone as Rocketplane. However, they could still have an issue with another milestone.

  • James

    There are those on the 9th floor that say ‘Flat is the new up” when it comes to the overall budget for NASA.

    That is loser talk.

    • Hiram

      “That is loser talk.”

      But maybe they’re just calling it like it is. Think they’re going to get more money by pretending that they’re due for a big bump? “Winner talk”, I guess? Everyone knows that at least with regard to human spaceflight rationale, NASA is running on empty. Flat is going to continue to be the new up until human spaceflight comes up with a real raison d’etre that demands action. In the absence of that, the rationale is keeping everyone employed.

      • James

        I don’t doubt the reality of ‘flat’ being the new ‘up’. But flat budgets are simply a guided decent into going out of business. The cost of everything goes up with inflation, and the cost of NASA missions goes up because NASA is a creaky ,old, can’t get with the times, bureaucracy that doesn’t know its shooting itself in the foot.

        The combination of all those factors makes flat the up that leads to decline.

        I don’t think there is any justification or rationale for Manned Space Flight, so as far as I am concerned they can go out of business.

        It’s the Space Science, especially planetary division, that is developing new technologies and advancing our understanding of our universe.. And the discoveries made will certainly benefit all of human kind, even though its hard to predict what those discoveries will be and how we’ll benefit.

        Space Science needs to make the case for at least an ‘up’ budget that keeps pace with inflation and recognizes the increased costs of missions.

        • Hiram

          I’m happy to think that human space flight might have a solid rationale, but none has yet appeared. If a solid rationale doesn’t appear, a guided descent into going out of business is likely and deserved. The prospect of colonization of the cosmos, say, for some sort of species insurance, is one that naturally justifies human space flight (I mean, you can’t do that with robots) but there are no arguments why that needs to be done NOW. The geopolitical arguments for human spaceflight are wholly fanciful, but at least they bear on problems that currently exist.

          Now, one has to say that space science doesn’t necessarily bear on existing problems, but the potential opportunities for serendipitous discovery that might revolutionize our understanding of the physical world (and we’ve seen some of these already) simply dwarfs any potential advantages of human spaceflight.

          But no, you don’t argue for “up budgets”. You argue for capability and need. The fact that dollars are dropping is not, in itself, a need. It’s sort of like the sunk cost fallacy. We’ve had this spending power for ages, so … shazzam … we need to keep it.

  • Malmesbury

    The issue is that a flat budget contains enough money for the pork deals. All that garbage (science, HSF, exploration etc) that the silly people are interested in can take a well deserved cut.

    Watch the West Wing episode where the Senator throws his toys out of the pram because the White House cancels a weapon system that doesn’t and *can’t* work. Everyone treats the guy who cancelled it as the idiot…

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