The 2,009-page omnibus bill that’s been crafted by Congress for the current fiscal year boosts NASA’s budget to $19.3 billion, which is $756 million more than the White House asked for.
The big winners include NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System and its planetary science projects – particularly a mission to Europa, a mysterious ice-covered moon of Jupiter. The measure also provides as much as the Obama administration requested – $1.24 billion – for NASA’s commercial crew program. That suggests the space taxis that are being built for NASA by the Boeing Co. and SpaceX will remain on track for their debut in 2017.
The long-delayed spending plan for the budget year that started in October, released overnight, isn’t totally a done deal. The House and Senate still have to vote their approval, and that’s not expected to happen until Friday. Then President Barack Obama has to sign it into law. But all the pieces are in place, and on Wednesday the White House gave the deal its thumbs-up.