NASA vs. Congress, Looking at the 2019 Budget

NASA has to have approval for important funding to keep the space program up and running. Every project must undergo scrutiny about its relevance to research and other uses. The 2019 budget seems to be set up for dispute, already.  NASA’s proposal includes a funding request for the Europa Clipper Mission. There is more than one complication when it comes to this mission. At times it is only a question of a time frame when launches are concerned. In this case, there are also concerns about how the launch should be approached.

NASA has taken the approach to launch the Europa Clipper in the year 2025. This projected launch uses a commercial vehicle. Congress has plans to launch it sooner, in 2022. This time frame demands that SLS is used. The numbers are astounding when it comes to this mission and the debate should not be taken lightly. The 2019 proposal is set at $264.7 million. This number is actually lower than the previous request of $425 million the year before.

The mission is aimed at sending the Europa Clipper into orbit around the planet Jupiter. Europa is a moon of Jupiter that is thought to possibly be able to support life. It has an icy presence, however. The Europa clipper is meant to fly by the moon repeatedly on this mission. The debate about launch, however, could potentially delay decisions on launch times and methods.

Congress seems willing to offer more money if the launch is moved up to 2022 and their suggested mode of transport, the SLS, is used. NASA thinks this is a waste of money and is still pressing for the use of a commercial vehicle. NASA also disapproves of the earlier launch, saying that it does not fit in with the schedule of other space program projects.