The House Appropriations Committee has made some amendments to the CJS appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2021 in order to allocate budget for more of NASA’s missions that the administration intended to cancel to prioritize other projects.
The administration’s proposal struck out the educational program of NASA, The STEM, and raised the proposed budget for the projects that lean more towards moon voyages. The House expressed their disagreement on the report, saying that the proposal had a political motive to pursue the Artemis program within the given span of time and therefore chose to neglect other Earth science programs that could be of great benefit to the welfare of the planet. The amended bill countered the proposed cancellation of the STEM program, and moved to restore it. The overall funding for science programs was also increased by more than $900 million than what was initially requested.
Other programs that were given funding are the PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem) and CLARREO (Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory) Pathfinder missions, that were originally bound for cancellation in the administration’s proposal.
The PACE program conducts constant ocean observation, monitoring of the carbon cycle and cloud formation as well as aerosols. It provides valuable information on the status of the earth’s oceans as it pertains to marine life conservation. CLARREO program does general surveillance of planetary activity and collects data to be used as a basis in managing the effects of climate change.
The Roman Space Telescope, SOFIA, and the Mars Odyssey spacecraft will be restored as well. The Mars Odyssey began its orbit missions back in 2001 but was intended to be shut down. However, the House will seek to provide the program with $11 million to resume operations.
The Roman telescope is a specialized equipment used to observe dark matter, while the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) is a Boeing aircraft equipped with reflecting telescopes that will journey in the stratosphere to conduct observations that ground-based telescopes are unable to do. The telescopes are intended to capture infrared radiation emissions from celestial events within its range.
The House reduced some of the requested funding for the Artemis program. The Europa Clipper mission was granted the same amount as requested. The LEO economy, which is another one of NASA’s priorities to establish opportunities for space-based industries and continue to running economy that has been built around the ISS orbit area, proposed for a $150 million budget for the following year, but was only granted $15 million. From a $10 million request, the bill will provide $30 million to the Flight Opportunities program which will seek to develop commercial reusable suborbital transportation’ using space technology and find more launch environments.