The White House announced this Thursday its annual fiscal budget proposal and some of NASA‘s projects might be at risk if Congress finally approves it. The document shows a $200 million cut in the funding of the federal space agency, which means a 1 percent decrease, which represents an annual budget of $19.1 billion.
The Trump Administration proposal, called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” contradicts the “NASA Transition Authorization Act” a project presented in 2017 and approved by both the House and the Congress. It represents one of the first projects that is accepted by both chambers regarding the federal space office.
This bill, approved last year contemplated a $19.508 billion budget for NASA, which meant a 1 percent increase when compared to 2016. However, Trump’s proposal aims to go the cut the funding 1 percent. The difference between projects is more than $400 million.
Trump is not the only President in recent history that has not been generous to the space agency. Former President Barack Obama proposed in 2016 that NASA should receive only $19 billion. That means $300 million less than the Congress plan. In the end, the Congress voted for denying Obama’s request.
What this funding cut would mean to NASA and its projects
The orientation of the funding project presented by The White House is to reduce the budget for Earth Science programs conducted by NASA. These projects are some of the first tasks on which the agency has worked since they started to function in the 1950’s. These projects include weather forecasts, warning announcements in hazardous weather situations and observation of long-term climate shifts on Earth.
According to the document, Trump wants specifically to terminate missions like Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE), Orbital Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3), Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), and CLARREO Pathfinder. All of this satellites perform important observations regarding Earth’s weather. Climate causes the loss of lives, businesses, and homes around the globe, and the tools that NASA has built continue to help prevent many of those unfortunate events.
The PACE project, for example, is designed for the observation of the colors of the sea. This satellite, set to be launched in 2022, would detect wavelengths that our eyes can’t see and provide information regarding the ocean’s actual state and the cycle of carbon itself.
Another example is the OCO-3 program, which is a satellite set to dock itself to the International Space Station. It would measure the variation in carbon dioxide levels from one year to another. This project would include the use of recycled materials from other missions.
One of the satellites is already orbiting Earth. The DISCOVR program is functioning since 2015, and it is continuously monitoring solar winds. This satellite can do things like “disrupt electric grids, flight communication, and GPS,” according to NASA’s official description.
Source: Business Insider