NASA’s $17.5 Billion Budget Request for 2015 Would Fund New Science Missions, Ground Flying Telescope
NASA will likely venture out into the universe on a slightly tighter budget in 2015, but the agency is still putting its focus on sending humans to space.
More than half of NASA's proposed $17.5 billion budget would go toward human exploration operations, the agency announced Tuesday, shortly after President Barack Obama unveiled his own 2015 budget proposal, which describes his vision for NASA.
One of the keys to NASA’s ambition to send humans deeper into space is new heavy lift rocket and Orion capsule, a crew-carrying vessel. The rocket, which is currently under development, is designed “to take astronauts farther into the solar system than we have ever gone before,” NASA said, and it will be a vital step in NASA’s goal to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s.
NASA also plans to use the funds to fulfill Obama’s promise to extend funding for the International Space Station, which Bolden described as a “springboard to deep space,” for at least four years through 2024.
In addition to money for exploration missions, the proposal includes nearly $5 billion for scientific research. NASA said that money will allow it to hit its target of a 2018 launch for the James Webb Space Telescope, said to be 100 times as powerful as its predecessor, the Hubble. Bolden called the telescope “the most incredible astrophysics instrument that humanity has ever seen.”
Detecting asteroids that may be hazardous to Earth is a prominent part of Obama’s proposal for NASA, which his budget called “high priority” mission. NASA is currently working on a plan to “identify, capture and redirect” an asteroid.