A mixed bag for other civil space budgets

The White House wants more money for two high-profile civil space initiatives: NOAA’s campaign to replace its polar-orbiting environmental satellites and the NASA-U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite.

Next Landsat would launch two years sooner than planned

USGS is seeking an additional 415.4 million to keep work on the landsat 9 ground system in synch with NASA's work on the spacecraft. Credit: NASA

USGS is seeking an additional 415.4 million to keep work on the landsat 9 ground system in synch with NASA’s work on the spacecraft. Credit: NASA

The White House budget proposal seeks to move up the launch of the next Landsat mission by two years.

Budgets for both NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey provide additional funding for Landsat 9 to allow for a launch of the spacecraft in 2021 instead of 2023.

An earlier launch of Landsat 9 would ensure continuity of observations given the age of Landsat 7, launched in 1999 and running low on fuel, and the limited lifetime of the thermal infrared sensor on Landsat 8. The USGS budget also included $2.2 million to pay for the storage and dissemination of Landsat-like data it will be geting from Europe’s Sentinel-2 spacecraft.

Polar satellites go up, NOAA’s space budget comes down

NOAA's budget includes an increase for building the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 spacecraft's successor satellites. Credit: NOAA

NOAA’s budget includes an increase for building the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 spacecraft’s successor satellites. Credit: NOAA

Polar satellite programs at the National Oceanic and Atmsopheric Administration would get more money despite an overall decline in NOAA’s satellite budget for 2017.

The proposal requests $393 million for future polar-orbiting satellites, up from $370 million appropriated for 2016. The additional funding would support work on the third and fourth Joint Polar Satellite System spacecraft.

NOAA’s overall satellite program, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, would get $2.3 billion in 2017, down $49 million from 2016. The request also includes additional funding for the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft launched last year because the spacecraft “has experienced more frequent anomalies than anticipated.”

(Relatively) big increase for the small space offices

New Mexico's Spaceport America falls under the regulatory oversight of the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Credit: SPACEPORT AMERICA

New Mexico’s Spaceport America falls under the regulatory oversight of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Credit: SPACEPORT AMERICA

Three small government offices involved in commercial space could get big budget increases in 2017.

The FAA’s budget includes a $2 million, or 11 percent, increase for the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which licenses commercial launches and spaceports.

NOAA’s proposal doubles the budget for its Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs office, which licenses remote sensing satellites, to about $2 million.

NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce would see its budget more than triple, also to $2 million, to handle work on commercial weather data.