NASA Announces its 2025 Budget. Lean Times Ahead.

Space flight is an expensive business and that money has to come from somewhere. The White House has just released their budget for fiscal year 2025. What does that mean for NASA?, they will get $25.4 billion, the same as it received last year but $2 billion less than it requested. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the constraints come from a debt ceiling agreement that limits non-defence spending. Alas the $2 billion deficit means NASA will need to cut costs from various missions.

Nelson went on to put the blame squarely on a small handful of people in the House of Representatives. It was his opinion that they would only agree to raising the debt ceiling (the maximum amount of money the US Government can spend) if spending caps were implemented. Whilst the deficit in this years budget is $2 billion, for NASA that means a lot. Their budget figures included $7.6 billion for science so NASA will have to look long and hard at their upcoming missions and spend over the next year to see what costs can be cut. 

One of the projects that looks like it may be cancelled is the Geospace Dynamics Constellation mission. It plans to accomplish breakthroughs in our understanding of the processes that govern the dynamics of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The layer is the region that is on the very boundary of space and includes the ionosphere and components of the thermosphere. 

The Earth System Observatory series of missions looks set to be restructured under the new budget too. The project is a joint enterprise with the Japanese Space Agency and, in an endeavour to preserve the partnership, NASA are assessing their options. These may focus on aerosol and cloud convection and precipitation studies. 

Sadly this reduction also means NASA will have to reduce spending on Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray telescope. Given that Hubble has surpassed its original goals ten fold it is perhaps no surprise its no the list of cuts with a 5% reduction in spend. The reductions for Chandra are more substantial with $68.3 million last year reducing to $41.1 million. Over the period of its operational mission, several of the systems are degrading and require active management to keep ticking along. This means Chandra will undertake minimal operations to account for the cuts.

The Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission is now under scrutiny given the budget costs. The original budget proposal for planetary science was $2.7 billion but this lists only as TBD for MSR. A sad day given that the Perseverance Rover has been trundling around Mars collecting samples ready for MSR to collect and return to Earth. The mission is under review which should conclude by end March. 

Thankfully it seems the Artemis program is unaffected with the full amount requested being received. There will be one tiny change though, Artemis 5 (which will be using the Blue Origin Lunar Lander for the first time) will slip back half a year to March 2030. 

In the grand scheme of things and the challenges facing governments the world over, perhaps NASA should be content with only losing $2 billion of their overall ask. As Nelson said “the current situation was not as bad for the agency as was the case a decade ago, when a budget sequestration made deeper cuts” he went on to say “I’d say this is mild by comparison back then”.

Source : President’s NASA FY 2025 Funding Supports US Space, Climate Leadership and NASA chief Bill Nelson promises a ‘fight’ for agency’s 2025 budget request

One Reply to “NASA Announces its 2025 Budget. Lean Times Ahead.”

  1. As stated, the cut could have been far worse, the US taxpayer can only fund so much, with budgets being cut to allow more defence spending given the state of the world, it is amazing that they even matched last year’s budget. I wonder if it is worth NASA looking at other speace agencies to chare the load on some of the most important missions, such as Chandra and Hubble, to avoid the cuts to “services”. The MSR is not critical, it’s a nice to have, but for the budget required to make that achievable there is lots more that could be done with that money to be honest. The Chinese are talking about a sample return mission – why not open a conversation with them about co-funding to spread the costs…NASA has collected samples, work with the Cghinese to collect those samples and return to Earth…

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