NASA’s will get $20.7 billion — $1.1 billion more than 2017 funding and $1.6 billion above the White House request — under a spending bill that cleared Congress this week and was signed by President Trump on Friday.
A big beneficiary will be the planned rocket to take astronauts into deep space and onto Mars, the Space Launch System (SLS), which will get $2.15 billion, and the Orion crew capsule, which will launch on top of the SLS, will get $1.35 billion, AL.com reported.
According to a report spaceflightnow.com, the NASA funding was part of a $1.3 trillion federal spending package that keeps the government running through the end of fiscal year 2018 — September 30 — after multiple stopgap budgets in recent months.
The budget provides $350 million for construction of a second SLS mobile launch platform, a project which, NASA believes, could shorten the gap between the first and second Space Launch System flights. Funding for a second SLS launch platform was not included in the White House’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.
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Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s outgoing acting administrator set to retire at the end of April, told a House subcommittee on March 7 that there was insufficient money in the agency’s budget to build a second SLS platform without delaying or canceling other projects.
While responding to a question during the hearing, Lightfoot said that a second SLS mobile launch platform would be better for the program in an “ideal world.” “I could fly humans quicker, probably in the 2022 timeframe,” with a second mobile launch platform, Lightfoot said. IANS