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Barbara Mikulski vows larger NASA budget

Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

According to an April 7, 2014 post on the Space Policy Online blog, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, vowed to work to increase NASA’s 2015 budget over the $17.5 billion request offered by the Obama administration. If anyone can do it, Mikulski can. She is not only the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee but also the subcommittee that handles NASA funding.

However the senator may be setting the bar a little low.

“As for NASA, she noted that the President’s request for FY2015 is less than the FY2014 appropriations and advised the audience: ‘don’t panic, help and hope is on the way.’ ‘My goal for NASA is to make sure we’re at least at the 2014 level and if we can find more money I will take you above that.’ The President is requesting $17.461 billion for FY2015, $186 million less than the FY2014 appropriation of $17.647 billion.”

However a number of critics have maintained that NASA is massively underfunded for the mandate that it has. That mandate includes sending space explorers beyond low Earth orbit in the next decade, maintaining the International Space Station, conducting a program to develop commercial spacecraft, a number of unmanned planetary probes, the James Webb space telescope, and a number of other programs. Celebrity astrophysicist and television personality Neil Degrasse Tyson has suggested that NASA’s needs to double in order for it to do thing things it needs to do.

Nevertheless, Mikulski has generally been a warm supporter of the space agency and its programs, especially those that benefit her home state of Maryland when NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is located.