The other major cut is to the Asteroid Redirect Mission. This was a proposed mission where an asteroid would be moved into lunar orbit, and astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft – which maintains funding alongside the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket – would fly to it and study it.
“We remain committed to the next human missions to deep space, but we will not pursue the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) with this budget,” said Lightfoot, although he noted that some developments from the project – like solar electric propulsion – would be retained.
This mission has been up for the chop for a while, as some bemoaned its lack of clear purpose. Nonetheless, it leaves NASA’s manned exploration with very little direction in place. The budget makes no specific mention of focusing on getting humans to the Moon or Mars, although it does pledge funding to support “astronauts on deep-space missions”.
The other big losers are aeronautics, which is cut by 26.6 percent, and the Office of Education, which would be scrapped. Support would be maintained for NASA’s commercial endeavors, though, which includes funding companies like SpaceX and Boeing to begin taking astronauts to low-Earth orbit in the next few years.
There are certainly some questionable decisions here. While NASA’s funding remains stable, those hoping Trump wouldn’t be aiming his chopping block at climate science and education are in for a bit of a shock. Save us, James Mattis – you’re our only hope.