The Artemis program, the space station… what is NASA’s 2022 budget?

The U.S. Congress finally determines the budget allocated to NASA for fiscal year 2022. If the amount is slightly below the space agency’s requirements, it’s an improvement from last year.

NASA’s $24.04 billion budget

For this fiscal year, NASA submitted a formal budget request to Congress in May 2021. At the time, agency administrator Bill Nelson said, ” The Biden administration proves that science is back.This (Editor’s Note: Budget) will help NASA tackle the climate crisis and advance robotic missions that will pave the way for human exploration of the Moon and Mars According to reports, on Tuesday, March 8, Congress released a draft budget that should be signed by President Joe Biden next week. Ars – Audio-Technica.

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In total, NASA will receive $24.04 billion from the U.S. government. While the amount was $760 million less than the space agency’s original request, it was $700 million more than the budget provided for fiscal 2021.

The Artemis project is in sight

One of the cornerstones of the 2022 budget is the Artemis program, through which NASA plans to return humans to the Moon and establish a permanent base on our satellites, more specifically the Human Landing System (HLS). This is the spacecraft that will land astronauts on the lunar surface, and it will be built by a private company, in this case, SpaceX using its Starship rocket.

For its development, NASA will receive $1.195 billion from the government. That’s exactly what she asked, though Congress didn’t understand that the agency had chosen only one company instead of two. The latter justified the decision precisely because of a lack of budget, and opted for SpaceX as the company offered lower costs than its direct competitors, especially Blue Origin.

However, in order to receive the full payment, NASA must ” Provide a publicly available plan on how to ensure the security, redundancy, sustainability, and competitiveness of the HLS program within the resources required by this law, and included in the FY 2023 budget request », and within thirty days of the signing of the text. Congress also asked her to provide a detailed list of the resources she will need to meet her goals by 2026.

Still related to the Artemis program, Congress decided to allocate a $2.6 billion budget to the Space Launch System (SLS), a super-heavy launch vehicle that has been in development for over a decade and has accumulated many delays. This exceeds NASA’s request ($2.48 billion). The U.S. government is particularly keen on the rocket, despite its astronomical cost, as it creates many jobs across the country. If all goes well, and with so many failures and delays, the SLS should make its maiden flight this year.

Space Launch System rocket.

An artist’s impression of the Space Launch System, a rocket that’s supposed to send the next batch of American astronauts to the moon.Image: NASA

After taking into account the ISS

The space agency also received the funding it requested for its commercial LEO development program, which operates after the International Space Station (ISS). The latter is funded until 2024, and Congress wants it to be funded until 2030 to retire at that point, but the project is currently in jeopardy due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and its impact on international space cooperation.

After the International Space Station, NASA wants low-Earth orbit to be occupied by space stations built and operated by private companies, and that the agency can rent places to send astronauts and even conduct experiments. In addition, it offered three companies a contract to develop their own stations.

For the program, Congress has decided to allocate $101.1 million, far exceeding the $15 million and $17 million awarded in 2020 and 2021.

Orbiting reef space station.

An artist’s impression of the Blue Origin orbiting reef space station, which is expected to be operational by the end of the century.Image: Blue Origin

Science section did not receive expected amount

For science, NASA will receive a combined $7.6 billion, which is less than requested ($7.9 billion) but more than last year. This includes a series of robotic missions to explore the solar system, the James Webb Space Telescope and new Earth observation missions. In addition, the space agency will receive everything it asks, namely $653 million to develop a mission to bring back to Earth samples from Mars collected by the Perseverance rover.

If the future of international space cooperation is fraught with uncertainty, NASA is working on many very large projects, and sometimes gets the budget needed to make it happen.

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