An impressive $1.315 billion is earmarked for planetary science in the “Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2014,” released July 2013. The Appropriations Bill brings a welcome $100 million more than the U.S. President’s Budget to the field for Fiscal Year 2014.
The billions of dollars set aside for NASA will preserve “a NASA portfolio balanced among science, aeronautics, technology, and human space flight investments. Moreover, it will keep NASA in the forefront of innovation, inspiring private companies to build new crew transportation and spawning a new satellite servicing industry that can revive, refuel, and rejuvenate defunct communications satellites,” predicts Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee and Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS).
The increased budget will help to support two upcoming, high-profile space missions: Mars 2020 and what is likely to be a Europa Lander Mission, investigating Jupiter’s moon.
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will explore Mars as a potential habitat for life, search for signs of past life, and collect samples for possible future return to Earth. Perhaps of most importance to the military and aerospace (mil/aero) community, the mission represents a much-desired shot in the arm—to the tune of $100 million in contracts to private industry. (More on this opportunity in the next installment.)
“More than half of U.S. economic growth can be attributed to innovation” and “no agency represents the Nation’s scientific prowess like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),” admits Sen. Mikulski. This military and aerospace (mil/aero) geek wholeheartedly agrees.