Trump's New Budget Blueprint For 2018 Includes Cuts Of Some NASA's Projects

An astronaut with red hair looking at rocks on what is supposed to be Mars

The much-anticipated release Thursday morning of President Trump's budget outline offered big headlines - a $1.1 trillion spending plan with massive cuts to the EPA, the State Department and other agencies to help pay for increased spending on the military and border security - but it offered scant specifics on what might happen to funding for climate science research across key government agencies.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is responsible for increasing understanding of the universe and our place in it, advancing America's world-leading aerospace technology, inspiring the Nation, and opening the space frontier.

Donald Trump's first budget proposal introduces the most sweeping cuts in history to the world's biggest science programmes, including the elimination of the star U.S. energy programme, ARPA-E. "I want to reiterate that we are committed to NASA's core mission of exploration". It may be that the Office of Education performs similar functions to other departments, but cutting the program will surely result in fewer scholarships, internships and student programs sponsored by NASA in the future. NASA would receive almost $19.1 billion in top line spending, as per the fiscal policy.

NASA's Earth Science division would receive $1.8 billion in 2018 under the proposed budget, which is $102 million less than 2017 funding levels, but four missions would be canceled outright.

That's excellent news for Trump advisor and SpaceX boss Elon Musk in the very first line of the budget proposal for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration: "Supports and expands public-private partnerships as the foundation of future United States civilian space efforts". The Budget creates new opportunities for collaboration with industry on space station operations, supports public-private partnerships for deep-space habitation and exploration systems, funds data buys from companies operating small satellite constellations, and supports work with industry to develop and commercialize new space technologies.

The new proposal maintains $3.7 billion in 2018 for development of NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket and deep-space crewed Orion capsule, without specifying a destination for the transportation system. The first piloted mission is targeted for the 2021 timeframe, although NASA is looking into the possibility of putting astronauts aboard the initial flight.

JPL would have handled the five-year robotic mission to retrieve the asteroid.

The proposal does not mention any plans to send humans back to the moon, a direction in which some Trump advisors had shown interest.

The ARM missions were seen as a precursor to piloted missions to Mars in the 2030s. It's known as a "skinny" budget-not because of its cuts to discretionary spending, which are significant-but because first-term presidents have had less time to fill in all the details of their future policy plans.

NOAA's budget for Earth and ocean sciences would also suffer under the proposal, which eliminates more than $250 million in grants and programs that support coastal and marine management, research and education.

But the Europa Clipper mission, which would send a spacecraft to fly by the frigid waterworld, survived.

Among other cancelled missions are OCO-3 (not yet launched), DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments and CLARREO Pathfinder (not yet launched).

Also being cut were programs involving NASA's education and planetary research programs, with the education program being eliminated altogether.

Melvin, who retired from NASA in 2014 and works now as a writer, motivational speaker and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) advocate, said that the Science Mission Directorate may not be able to coordinate agencywide initiatives as well as the Education Office currently does. "It's how so many people I know got started in the space industry", said Laura Seward Forczyk, a planetary scientist and space consultant who got three internships through the NASA Office of Education.

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