The US Congress’ House Appropriations Committee is set to disappoint NASA over its budget request. NASA originally requested US$25.3 billion for the Fiscal Year 2021. Instead, the committee has decided to award US$22.6 billion to the administration, about the same total as that for this fiscal year. The detail of the bill reveals that the lunar lander programme, designed to produce a lunar lander for astronauts to land on the Moon, by 2024 has been severely curtailed.

As part of the overall budget NASA requested US$4.72 billion to build reusable lunar landers and had already selected three potential designs. Instead, with only US$1.5 billion to play with, it may have to rethink its Artemis Program and move to a smaller expendable type. This would use simpler storable propellants for initial human exploration flights (as, by the way, this columnist has recommended).

The Blue Origin-led National Team’s concept for a three-stage lunar lander/ascent/transfer craft. Courtesy: Blue Origin

 

Some parts of the NASA budget have come out better than expected. The science budget has been awarded US$7.1 billion, about US$800 million in excess of the US$6.3 billion requested

Space News lists the full allocation of the budget here.