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).