Red Mars with icy caps
Image: NASA/JPL/USGS

NASA got a big surprise when Congress passed its omnibus budget for 2016.  NASA requested budget for 2016 came in at $19.3 billion.  They were rewarded with $750 million than they asked for an increase of $1.3 billion from 2015.

NASA sets its goals independent from any government oversight and this large amount of funding should go a long way to helping them reach those goals.  Especially in the development for the Commercial Crew program.  Administor Charlie Bolden has set one of his goals while in office to getting SpaceX and Boeing’s manned spacecraft functional.

Aside from the Commercial Crew program, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft received nice boosts to their budgets.  These two programs are crucial to NASA putting Americans back in space on American rockets.

The Jupiter moon mission, Europa Milti-Fly by Mission, received $175 million but requires that a lander be included in the project with “competitively selected instruments”  Europa is one of Jupiter’s moons and the project is not slated until early 2020s.

$1.631 billion will be used to continue the operation and scientific discovery with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and MER Opportunity rover.  This is $270 million more than requested and similar move the Mars 2020 rover got an extra $22 million.

The SLS program, once of the favorites of congressmen has been overfunded again at $2 Billion, $640 million than requested.  SLS is the rocket that along with the Orion spacecraft will be used to take humans to Mars.  The Orion project has also received an increase to $1.91 billion.

It was not all good news for all NASA divisions.  The Earth Science Division received $149 million less than request but still more than the 2015 budget.  Another surprising loser is the STMD (Space Technology Mission Directorate) is getting $39 million less than requested but still $90 million more than last year.