NASA wants a $24.8 billion budget for 2022

NASA is set to ask the Biden administration for money for its fiscal 2022 budget. The space agency released its physical year 2022 budget request on the 28th, asking for $24.8 billion to support new and existing missions. The new budgetary request represents over $1.5 billion more than the agency received in fiscal year 2021.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson says that the president's budget request is "recognition" that NASA's missions contribute to the Biden administration's larger goals for America. Nelson notes that of the money requested, $7.93 billion is for NASA science programs and is the most money ever for that type of mission. NASA says the record funding in the science area will help to address the climate crisis and advance robotic missions paving the way for astronauts to explore Mars and the moon in the future.

The budget also features a $250 million increase request for Earth science programs, including $137.8 million to start work on a series of missions known as the Earth System Observatory. Those missions would launch between 2027 and 2030. A massive increase in funding for the planetary science program to the tune of $3.2 billion in total for 2022 is included in the budget. That amount represents $500 million more than was granted in fiscal 2020.

One mission isn't getting more money. NASA proposes to cancel the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) program. It's a modified Boeing 747 equipped with a 2.5-meter telescope that would perform observations above infrared-absorbing water vapor in the lower atmosphere. NASA says that the high cost to operate the program at about $85 million annually wouldn't be justified by the science it produces.

The new budget also proposes a five percent increase in exploration programs to $6.88 billion. The funding would remain flat for Orion, Space Launch System, and Exploration Ground Systems programs, but funding for research and development would increase by over 20 percent to approximately $2.4 billion.