So what else did NASA Administrator Bill Nelson share with the Senate Committee on Appropriations last week (beyond his comments about the International Space Station)? In his prepared statement regarding NASA’s $26 billion budget request, he highlighted a number of priorities for his agency, including:
- the Artemis Program to bring astronauts back to the Moon and related exploration costs – $7.5 billion;
- continued support for the ISS – $4.3 billion;
- the space technology research and development portfolio for the Moon, Mars, and other areas, such as sending the CAPSTONE CubeSat to the Moon as a pathfinder for the Artemis program – $1.44 billion;
- greater science funding for projects such as exploring solutions for bringing the samples of Martian rock and soil collected by the Perseverance rover to Earth through the Mars Sample Return mission – $8 billion; and
- supporting the civil aviation manufacturing sector with test flights on its Low Boom Flight Demonstrator, which will enable environmentally and socially acceptable supersonic passenger flights, as well as continued work on the X-57 Maxwell, an all-electric aircraft – $971 million.
NASA certainly has a lot on its place, and I did not even highlight the focus on Earth iteself, such as the planned Earth System Observatory, which is an array of satellites, instruments, and missions designed to generate a 3D, holistic view of the entire planet.
We just provided a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine so that it can defend itself and have a better future. This $26 billion will take us out of the realm of Earth-bound conflicts and allow us to find our future in the stars, or at least the solar system. It is money well spent.