Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said that NASA and the Space Launch System (SLS) were fully funded in the appropriations package that Congress passed before the Christmas recess. This package included a $1.1 billion budget increase for NASA.
NASA, and its contractors, is a major employer in North Alabama.
“I, along with members of the Alabama delegation, have worked strategically to position North Alabama as a leader for US space exploration,” Aderholt said in an email to constituents. “By advocating for sufficient funding for projects like SLS and EUS, there is no doubt that Marshall Space Flight Center and hundreds of area companies that subcontract and support this work have become the epicenter of space exploration projects including the US mission to go back to the moon.”
“I was grateful House and Senate leadership were able to strike an appropriations deal before the December 20 deadline,” Aderholt explained. “I was pleased with most funding allocations for FY2020.”
“Funding for NASA and the Space Launch System (SLS) program was funded at a total of $22.6 billion,” Aderholt explained. “This $1.1 billion increase from FY2019 is significant for Marshall Space Flight Center as they continue to lead the nation’s focus on space.”
“The SLS is one of the most powerful rockets ever made,” Aderholt said. “We expect it to be the rocket to take us back to the moon and into deeper space. With $2.5 billion specifically allocated for SLS, I’m confident that the work at Marshall on the SLS will stay on schedule and be completed. The engineers and leaders at the Marshall Space Flight Center have made major advances in the manufacturing of the SLS over the past few years and I’m excited to see how this additional funding further expands their developments.”
“As part of the SLS funding, the bill secured around $300 million for Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) which is ready to advance to production,” Aderholt added. “The SLS with an EUS will have the largest fairing in the world. With these developments, we will be able to deliver large items already assembled inside the fairing. This reduces risk faced with multiple launches and doing assembly in space.”
Aderholt said that the Space Launch System, “Is the rocket that we believe will be best to take us back to the moon in 2024 and then to Mars.”
“In August 2019, it was announced the Human Landing System would be managed at Marshall,” Aderholt continued. “I’m happy that we were able to secure $600 million in funding for FY20 which will allow NASA to make its planned schedule of awards and continue to plan for the landing of a new crew- and the first woman- on the surface of the moon in President Trump’s target date of 2024.”
“The bill also funded the Nuclear Thermal Propulsion program at $110 million,” said Aderholt. “This is crucial for the planning discussions for the mission to Mars. We were able to position North Alabama to play a vital role in our missions back to the moon and on to Mars. Without Alabama, none of these goals could be achieved.”
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine applauded the bipartisan appropriations package which was signed by President Donald J. Trump (R) Friday a week ago.
“For the first time since the Apollo era, @NASA has funding for a human lunar lander. We are grateful for the $1.3 billion in new funding to accelerate America’s return to the Moon through the #Artemis program,” Bridenstine said on social media.
Congressman Robert Aderholt represents Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. He is serving in his twelfth term in Congress.