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In Trump's NASA Budget, Florida Stands To Gain

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The Trump administration is asking Congress for more than $25 billion to fund NASA next year. Florida stands to gain if the budget is passed by Congress. 

The budget is merely a request. Ultimately it's up to Congress to appropriate the money.

The budget proposal for 2021 is a 12 percent increase from last year and fully funds NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft -- two programs with large footholds at Kennedy Space Center.

“SLS and Orion are very popular within Congress," said space policy analyst Laura Forczyk. "Every year, Congress has funded SLS and Orion beyond the President's budget request, so you can actually anticipate that Orion will get more funding than even what's requested."

The proposal also opens up more missions for commercial providers -- meaning more Florida-based launch companies could get a piece of the budget. Previous NASA bills required a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, to launch on NASA's SLS rocket. Under provisions set in the Trump budget, Europa Clipper could launch on a commercial rocket.

“Either way you look at it, Florida will win. Whether it’s an SLS launch or a commercial provider,” said Forczyk.

The proposal requests more than $3 billion  to develop a lunar landing system, a key piece of hardware to meet Trump’s goal of landing humans on the moon by 2024. Companies with ties to Florida are vying for the contract.

The increase in funding comes at the cost of cutting other science missions. The Trump proposal cancels WFIRST, a space-based infrared telescope, and SOFIA, a telescope mounted to Boeing aircraft. The 2021 budget request also cuts funding to STEM outreach programs.

Congress will have the final say on where the money is allocated and the proposed cuts have survived previous funding years.

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Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."