Biden proposes $26 billion NASA budget for 2023 to fund exploration, Earth science

Exploration, space technology and Earth science are among the priorities of the Biden administration in its 2023 NASA budget request released Wednesday (March 28)

The proposed $26 billion NASA budget is meant to advance the Artemis program to put people on the moon, to address the problem of climate change by focusing on “open” (non-restricted) data, and to push forward technology development with commercial partners, the budget documents say.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is asking for $25.973 billion, which is $1.93 billion (or 8%) over the 2022 allocation NASA received. The agency received $24.041 billion for 2022 in an omnibus spending bill approved earlier this month.

Space technology received an increase to $1.4 billion (over $1.44 billion in 2022), while climate change got a slight boost to $2.4 billion (over $2.3 billion).

From NASA’s 2023 presentation, it appears that planetary science programs and astrophysics have essentially flat budgets. Aeronautics, however, receives a hefty requested increase, to $971.5 million (over $914 million requested and $800 million allocated in 2022.)

In human exploration, Artemis’ Human Landing System (HLS) received the lion’s share of a a $2.6 billion request (over $2 billion in 2022), in the program’s campaign development budget. HLS itself has a requested $1.5 billion. The program was delayed seven months by a legal challenge and complaints by Blue Origin following a single-source award to SpaceX.

Artemis’ common exploration systems development infrastructure (including the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft), however, have a $4.7 billion request, essentially flat from the $4.5 billion request of fiscal 2022. The news comes as Artemis 1 prepares for a “wet dress rehearsal” (simulated countdown) ahead of an expected liftoff for an uncrewed moon mission, no earlier than May.

The ISS budget remains almost even at roughly $1.307 million (a little less than $1.327 million in 2022), with support for space transportation systems like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon also remaining nearly the same year-over-year.

NASA’s desire to start developing next-generation space stations to replace the aging ISS shows in the budget; the amounts are small, although the relevant proportion has doubled. Fiscal 2023 has a $224 million allocation for future space stations, more than double the $102 million request for 2022.

Meanwhile, NASA’s Mars campaign development will take a dip to $161 million (over $195 million in 2022) for long-range systems including habitation and human support for an eventual Mars mission by humans.

The budget’s $822 million request for Mars sample return so far has few details about the landing missions expected to pick up samples from the Perseverance rover, currently working on the Red Planet to cache promising rocks and material.

More details will be forthcoming later today during a 2 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) State of NASA address by administrator Bill Nelson, and a 4:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) NASA budget phone call for media.

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