The White House’s newly released budget request for NASA includes cuts across most of the space agency’s programs, representing a nearly 3-percent decrease in the funding approved for the 2017 fiscal year.
President Donald Trump requested on Tuesday $19.1 billion in funding for NASA, an amount that comprises about one half of 1 percent of the nation’s budget each year. The figure is smaller than the $19.65 billion Congress approved earlier this month in its omnibus spending bill, and slightly higher than the $19 billion requested by former President Barack Obama in his final proposal. Trump’s request is also in line with NASA’s current spending levels; in fiscal year 2016, the space agency received $19.3 billion.
The new numbers track closely with the blueprint budget the Trump administration released in March, which teased the highlights of the president’s fiscal plans. The preview document put dollar amounts on the Trump administration’s sense of NASA’s priorities, favoring space-exploration efforts over earth-science research and education initiatives. The full budget released Tuesday will be reviewed by Congress, and then sent back to the president’s desk.
Trump’s budget allocates $5.7 billion for NASA’s science division, which includes programs for planetary and earth sciences, astrophysics, heliophysics, and the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch next year. That figure represents a 1 percent decrease from the 2017 budget, but is slightly larger than Obama’s request for that year. The earth-sciences program, specifically—which studies the planet’s surface, atmosphere, oceans, and changing climate—would see the biggest cut, down 9 percent from current spending levels. Trump allocates $1.75 billion for the program, less than the $1.9 billion Congress approved in its last budget and the $2 billion Obama requested. Three planned earth-science missions receive no funding.