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Trump’s NASA budget endangers Europa Clipper and asteroid missions


NASA may have to cull a couple of its projects including its recently announced Europa Clipper mission as well as the asteroid mission as the latest budget proposes a cut in NASA funding.

According to Trump administration’s latest proposal NASA will get roughly $19.1 billion and not $19.3 billion and this small cut could affect a couple of projects at the space agency. The budget proposal seeking cuts in the funding was released on Thursday and according to NASA the proposal is geared towards promoting more public-private partnerships with focus on deep space explorations instead of Earth-centric research.

While the science funding is stable, NASA’s acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot says that some of the missions will not go forward. The budget terminates four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduces funding for Earth science research grants.

The budget proposal also seeks cancellation of multi-billion-dollar Asteroid Redirect Mission, but encourages NASA to send American astronauts on deep-space missions. The budget also intends to promote robotic exploration of the Solar System through funding for fly-by missions of Jupiter’s Europa, but not a lander mission. The budget also proposes to keep funding the Mars rover mission that is scheduled for a 2020 launch.

The currently released budget isn’t a detailed one, but an outline of what the space agency should expect when the detailed budget is released in May. The budget is in line with what NASA has been allotted over the last few years and so the space agency is optimistic that the budget will go a long way allowing it to work with the industry on space missions as well as continue exploring the deep space.

NASA added that the budget will create new opportunities for collaboration with industry on space station operations, supports public-private partnerships for deep-space habitation and exploration systems, would fund data buys from companies operating small satellite constellations, and supports work with industry to develop and commercialise new space technologies.