NASA Could Actually Get a Budget Boost Next Year

The pending budget will give NASA even more money than they asked for

One of the line items in the new budget is funding for a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures/Corbis

Since the end of the Apollo era, barring a blip in the mid-90s, NASA's budget as a share of the federal total has been on a slow decline. It comes as a bit of a surprise, then, that in the pending federal budget the space agency will actually get even more money than they asked for, says the Verge.

Back in September NASA asked for $17.5 billion to carry out its mission. If the budget goes through as is, they'll be getting $18 billion, a $500 million bonus. That extra money won't take NASA back to its glory days, but it will bring the agency out of its year-over-year nose dive and back to the effective funding levels it saw a decade ago.

According to Science Insider, NASA's planetary science division is taking the biggest slice of the bonus pie. As SpaceX and Boeing and other private spaceflight companies come online with the ability to carry both equipment and, soon, crew to the International Space Station, NASA is freed up to focus on doing the things that only NASA can do.

The extra money, say the Verge, would be enough to save some missions from the chopping block, like the agency's one-of-a-kind research airplane SOFIA; spur new missions, like a quest to Jupiter's icy moon Europa; and support the renewed human spaceflight program, which saw an important milestone met with the first test launch of the Orion crew capsule last week.

The federal budget has so far passed through the House, but will still need Senate approval before it can be passed in to law.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.