See what NASA’s next decade of space exploration looks like, despite proposed budget constraints

NASA's proposed 2025 budget is below what the agency hoped to receive, which could mean changes for space exploration

WASHINGTON – NASA has been notified that if the proposed 2025 budget is not adjusted, it will see $25.3 billion in funding that will help advance some key programs destined to get humans back to the Moon.

The allocation is part of an overall $7.3 trillion budget proposed by the White House, which will go to Congress for debate and approval.

The funding is below what the agency hoped to receive, which could mean changes for space exploration. The 18,000-member workforce originally sought spending of $27.7 billion during the 2025 fiscal year.

The space agency’s expected funding would allow astronauts to launch in 2025 on a mission known as Artemis II, but the first landing attempt on the Moon would not happen before Sept. 2026.

"Of course, there are many, many, many more great things that we would have loved to have done in (fiscal year) 25 and were not able to do everything within the budget, and we've had to make some tough choices," said Nicky Fox, an associate administrator at NASA. "Despite this, though, the NASA's science fleet continues to be strong."


Apparent losers appear to be race to Mars, telescope programs

An accelerated timeline to get to the Red Planet as early as 2033 does not appear to be in the cards.

The space agency contends that any successful rover and human landings on the Moon, gets humanity one step closer to Mars, but there does not appear to be any significant leaps towards at least through 2032.

Funding for telescope projects such as the Hubble and Chandra X-ray Observatory appears to be reduced from previous intentions.

Both space observatories have been in operation since the 1990s and have performed beyond expectations.

The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope mission is still expected to launch in 2027, but funding for development appears to have peaked and will decline over the next several years.

The mission is expected to analyze outer space’s expansive dark matter and search for exoplanets.

An undertaking that appears to be completely on the chopping block is what was known as the "Geospace Dynamics Constellation mission."

According to scientists, the mission would have helped study Earth’s upper atmosphere and its interaction with the magnetic field. 

"…the budget proposes the cancellation of Geospace Dynamics Constellation mission to fund higher priorities and increases funding for the Space Weather program," the agency stated.

A decrease in funding for certain projects could lead to NASA to increase its participation with private industry, international partners and academia.



Artemis missions to Moon to continue

Artemis, a term from Greek mythology, and the name of NASA’s moon exploration program appears in the budget request more than 400 times, signifying its importance to the space agency.

Despite a rocky start with budget overruns and years of delays, the proposal shows no major changes to funding or the timeline for Artemis II, III, IV, V, VI, or VII.

An estimated $7.8 billion will be used to launch humans to the Moon and lay the foundation for a lunar presence.

"We are that bridge connecting the explorers who came before us with the adventurers who are going to come after us," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in an address.

The agency also highlighted the use of more than $100 million to develop a deorbit vehicle that it hopes will help guide the International Space Station to a safe ending.

Operations aboard the ISS are expected to continue until 2030, when the agency said it will likely transition to a commercial space station.

The deorbit vehicle will allow for the then-defunct space station to maneuver before it plummets to Earth over an uninhabited area of an ocean, minimizing threats to humans.

"We are all affected. And I promise you, every one of you, that's part of team NASA, that I will continue to do everything in our power to fight for NASA, to fight to increase our funding," said Nelson.