The Politics of Space: How YOU saved NASA


I just got the annual budget report from the Planetary Society regarding NASA, here’s an image:image

The Breakdown:

The process that occurs that results in the birth of NASA’s budget begins in the White House.

- First the president makes a “budget proposal” that, assuming all people agree, then goes to Congress where the House of Representatives and the Senate both have something called the “Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee" which is a group of senators and reps that essentially decide what goes into the bill (budget proposal).

- The House and the Senate CJS Subcommittees each make their own versions of the bill and their respective sides then vote on the bill.

- A conference is held where compromises are made to each bills which then get essentially combined and voted upon for finalization by Congress (a bill that both the House and the Senate vote on)

- Assuming the final bill passes both the House of Representatives and the Senate (i.e. Congress) it then goes back to the White House where the president has the option to either veto or sign it into law.

NASA’s recent budgetary problems:

In 2013 NASA had taken a large cut in its budgets.

At the beginning of the 2015 “NASA budget birthing process” described above things looked extremely bad.

The White House proposed a horrible budget that would be so low that NASA would’ve essentially had to have turned off the Mars Opportunity rover as well as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as well as basically killing a mission to search for extraterrestrial life on Europa.

This budget would’ve cut the number of planetary missions at NASA to less than any in 25 years.

The Planetary Society (i.e. you!) rides to NASA’s rescue:

After seeing the alarming cuts to NASA, Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society put out a call to arms, asking Society members like myself to sign petitions and try to gather signatures of petition to send to Congress, the next stop for the president’s budget proposal.

Having just started my science Tumblr, I begged followers to sign the petition and a few of you kind ladies and gentlemen did. Thank you all so much, your petitions were successful!

At Congress, battle ensued between the CJS Subcommittees of the House and the Senate. This is when Bill Nye showed up with YOUR PETITIONS printed out and gave them to each of your reps and senators. Need proof? Here he is with your petitions: image

Now, to be sure, those aren’t all from this blog. There were many other members of the Planetary Society that helped including many of you guys who reblogged calls to sign the petition.

Bill Nye’s presence along with the pressure of many thousands of constituents pushed the House of Representatives (yes that super right-wing House) to not only totally reverse the president’s budget cuts to NASA, but to add $435,000,000 to NASA’s budget on top of that bringing the proposal to a whopping $1,790,000,000.

Take pride Tumblrers. You guys were a part of this. You helped saved the Mars Opportunity rover as well as the development of a mission to search for life on Europa.

The Fight Isn’t Over:

As wonderful as the House’s proposal is, we still faced political challenges.

As you all likely know, American politics has been particularly brutal in the last few years. The Democratic and Republican parties have been at each others throats like never before and possibly indicative of this emotionally charged debate, the Senate, in direct contrast to the funding the House proposed for planetary science, made hardly any improvement for that branch of NASA funding.

Planetary science includes things like robots we’ve got around Saturn and Mars. Telescopes orbiting Earth like the Hubble Space Telescope and its successor the James Webb Space Telescope, due to launch in 2018. These are all in danger should the Senate fail to match the Houses planetary science proposal.

The good news is that the Senate has also made improvements to the president’s overall NASA budget proposal.

With election coming up soon though and especially one where most seats being bid for are Democratic ones, now’s the time to sign this petition again! Sign it and make sure the right pressure is placed on the Senate to get them to finalize a healthy budget for NASA!

Together we can (as Bill Nye says), “Dare I say it… change the world(s)!


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