No joy for the NASA budget

By Phil Plait | January 30, 2007 10:16 pm

From Space Politics comes the bad news: NASA will not get any additional money this year. Right now, they (like the rest of the government) are running on the budget from fiscal year 2006. The last Congress did not pass a budget before they fled left, so the new Congress said the government has to run FY07 on the FY06 budget. I already wrote about this.

Well, the House Appropriations Committee just filed a measure (to be voted on Wednesday, and it will probably pass) that will extend the continuing resolution for the rest of 2007. Usually, these CRs are temporary until a new budget can be passed, but the House is a bit of a mess right now, and the Committee decided that until they can get earmarks under control, the government gets to spend the rest of FY07 (which started on October 1, 2006 and ends September 30, 2007) using the FY06 budget.

For NASA overall, this hits hard. There was a 500 million dollar budget increase from 06 to 07. That’s gone now. Poof.

According to the Space Politics article, NASA will not be allowed to shuffle money, either. This is very interesting: the big hit is to the Exploration Division, which is where they are building the new system to take men to the Moon and Mars. I was assuming that science was about to be eviscerated to funnel money back into Exploration. However, NASA is not going to be allowed to do this.

So science just got a reprieve, sortof. Science is still taking a $100 million hit with the CR, so something’s gotta give.

Interestingly, I just got a note that says that NASA will be announcing its 2008 budget on Monday, February 5 (unfortunately, I will be at a scientific conference and may not be able to listen in). I’ll be very curious to see how this all pans out. I am sure they’ll talk about this new budget, what will get hit (I suspect they’ll be evasive on details until they can work on the fallout of the cuts), and how this will affect the Hubble servicing mission. Stay Tuned.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Politics, Science

Comments (24)

  1. Jim

    I am sure you meant FY07 ends September 30, 2007. Otherwise it would be two years long. (Although Congress effectively made 2006 two years long.)

  2. Grand Lunar

    I am angry beyond rational thought.
    NASA takes the hurt, while other pork barrel projects in other agencies play with runaway budgets.

    This really, really, really stinks. >:(

  3. Carey

    Jim stole my comment :)

  4. shoeshine boy

    I thought the NASA “snake” logo was retired years ago.

  5. shoeshine boy,

    They’re bringing back an old, more cost-effective logo in order to save money.

  6. Astrogirl

    We need to get out of Iraq and start spending the money on productive things like space exploration. And yes, I did miss someone very much (my friend’s fiance) when he was in Iraq. We were so happy when he returned home safely. It’s time to get the rest of our sons, daughters, parents, friends, and neighbors safely home. Then we should be able to give some spare change from the war budget for NASA.

  7. Jim, oops. Thanks, I fixed it. Darn typos!

  8. DJ

    Astrogirl, if you read the blog carefully, even with the cute cross out by BA, you would see the reason for the freeze had nothing to do with the war in Iraq or the current Administration. It had to do with the fact that the new leadership of the Congress can’t (and never intended to) live up to their campaign promises. We now have the “why spend money on space when we have so many problems at home” crowd in charge, so look for NASA’s budget to be under even more pressure with a Democrat Congress. If a Democrat wins the Presidency in ’08, look out for the big cutting knives to come out in favor of things with more political advantage than science for those in power.

  9. Astrogirl

    You know what DJ, I watch the news. I see exactly what’s going on and I don’t need you to dictate it to me. I get my news from mulitple sources, not just this blog. It is well known where a big chunk of my taxes are going to, and I don’t like it one bit. And yes, I am mad that Congress has made poor decisions on this particular topic.

    Please allow me (and anyone else on here) to frame an opinion about a topic on the blog from information from multiple sources. I am allowed my opinion about what’s going on now, just as much as you have the right to your opinion about it, as well as your opinion you expressed about the possible future democrat president.

    Also, I might point out that BA has blogged about Bush saying he wants us to return to the moon and not funding it. So, yes, I DO READ the blogs carefully.

  10. NOYB

    Yeah, I know. Just lost my job because of this. Thanks to all you idiots who voted for useless liberal Democrats!

  11. DJ, you are incorrect. The problem is that the last Congress, the 109th, left the budget in a huge mess. The new Congress has opted to try to fix many of the problems first before setting up the next year’s budget… if they didn’t, then the same budget problems would be infecting it.

    I note that one Senator is already blaming the Democrats for the budget problems at NASA, which I find to be disengenuous at the very best. I’m not happy with the decision that was made, but I also understand that NASDA is one small part of a very big budget, and it’s a budget with very big problems (like earmarks). Blaming the new majority is spin, pure and simple.

  12. NOYB, really? What do you mean? Can you give us some details please?

  13. Ozprof

    At the risk of seeing this become a political discussion (if it isn’t already!!) from my understanding of USA politics and political parties, was it not Democrats who decided to send people to the Moon? And was it not a Republican who made such savage cuts to NASA’s budget that the last 3 Moon missions had to be canceled?

    Also, was it not a Republican who tried his best to kill off ALL NNASA planetary exploration? And was is not a Democrat who initiated much of the recent Mars exploration projects?

    Regards,

  14. Astrogirl

    Thank you BA and Ozprof for pointing out some of the things that needed to be said, and I neglected to think of. And yes, BA I do stand corrected. You are right, the FORMER Congress was the one to mess us the budget, leaving the CURRENT Congress to fix it. Thanks for pointing that out. I am glad there’s a place like this where we can say things that need to be said about such issues. Some of my friends are tired about hearing the politics surrounding space and other science issues :-)

  15. Jim

    Few politicians, of either party, do anything anymore that does not first answer this question positively: “How will this help my chance to stay in power.” The budget from the 109th was crap because both parties could not think of it as anything more than a way to funnel money into vote buying schemes, known as earmarks. Now the ball is in the Democrat’s court. If this portends what the next two years will be like, money diverted into more earmarks, than we will have a rough ride.

  16. Jim

    Sorry to double post:

    BA, that was not a senator but Congressman Dave Weldon (R) who made the statement about Democrats. He has been a supporter of NASA and space science, and often works with Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) to ensure funding for NASA programs. Like I said earlier, the ball is in the court of the majority. There lays the accolades for success, or the blame of failure.

  17. I remember serving with the United States Army in Vietnam in December 1968 when Apollo 8 made it’s historic first flight to The Moon. You have no idea what a morale booster that was. I understand the analogy of money spent on war would be better spent on space/science projects. I hope to see NASA get all the dollars it will need to get us back to the lunar surface. By the year 2020, the cost of War may go down. And, with technological and scientific breakthroughs, the cost of going back the lunar surface may also go down. NASA will explore ways to get the job done with the budget they are already provided with. Some projects might be delayed or canceled. Please remember this also: some wars might be delayed or canceled too.

    We Came In Peace For All Mankind

  18. jrkeller

    Ray Gray,

    I was barely 7 when Apollo 8 happened and I can still remember the profound change it had on my parents. I still remember staring at the moon during those cold December nights hoping to see a capsule orbiting the moon, or see some rocket engine flames or something. (Of course now I realize how silly that was). It seemed like it was a magical time. Even now almost 40 years later, I still catch myself looking at the moon just like I did when I was little, especially when it is Christmastime.

  19. jrkeller

    BA,

    One more thing to add about the NASA budget fiasco. Because of the Republican laziness, a proposed $1 billion add-on by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) also was lost. So one could say that 1.5 billion was lost.

    I do find it a bit disconcerting that none of the Democrats who represent states or districts which NASA centers have not said or done anything about the budget shortfall. I’m willing to wait and see what happens with the FY 08 budget.

  20. Irishman

    From what I saw in the newspaper, the incoming Democrats are concerned, but they chose to focus on the ’08 budget since it was rapidly approaching, rather than struggle and fight to fix the ’07 budget but then be late on ’08.

  21. jrkeller

    I guess when I see and read that a representative campaigning on increased funding for NASA, I expect that he or she will deliver. Waiting a year to do something, just puts things at least a year behind from where they should be.

    I am encourage by Bush’s FY08 budget request

    http://www.chron.com/BlogBurst/BBpost2.html?bbPostId=BzBxBn0iHX7EBC9gVBN3C2MBCz37iec2ofeUKCz3CqjlU9Lh59

  22. Irishman

    I wouldn’t call it waiting a year. It’s not like they’re ignoring fiscal issues until July or anything. The ’08 budget is in work now. Yes, that means the money won’t get to NASA until October, and the consequence of Congressional screw ups last year means the money for this year is hosed, but it’s not that they’re ignoring the situation or putting it off.

  23. What difference does it make? NASA’s spending has never been in sync with it’s budget. And most of it’s projects span several years, so a single year budget crisis will have little effect on the agency.

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