June 14, 2018

Van Hollen Secures Priorities for Wallops Island, Space Innovation in Senate Funding Bill

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced the inclusion of several Maryland priorities in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. This legislation will invest in national security, law enforcement, and American scientific innovation. It also provides funding for three agencies that have a major presence in Maryland: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“NASA Goddard is on the front line of the agency’s core mission objectives – from spacecraft that explore earth and outer space, to the unparalleled work of the Hubble Space Telescope, to programs that study earth science and propose ways to tackle both natural and human-induced changes,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I’m proud that Goddard has its home in Maryland – and that we are also home to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and many others involved in our space programs. I’m committed to protecting this vital work.”
While the Administration proposed cuts to Earth Science funding at NASA and would have eliminated key missions like the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud Ecosystem (PACE) program and RESTORE-L at NASA Goddard, Senator Van Hollen and his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee continued support for those projects and others, including:
·         $15 million for 21st Century Launch Program, including $10 million for Wallops Flight Facility. Wallops Flight Facility, located just south of Maryland’s border with Virginia, plays a crucial role in both NASA and Department of Defense missions. Wallops employs over 500 Marylanders. This funding would allow crucial upgrades and investments in the Wallops infrastructure.
·         $1.93 billion for NASA’s Earth Science budget, which is a major mission area at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. This program is vital to our effort to learn to respond to natural or human-induced changes, and to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards. This funding – an increase of $10 million over last year – would improve climate models, weather prediction, and natural hazard mitigation through Earth observation from space.
·         $180 million for the RESTORE-L program at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. This funding is a $50 million increase over Fiscal Year 2018. RESTORE-L is an essential program for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center impacting hundreds of jobs. Moreover, NASA Goddard is developing a general expertise in satellite servicing that will make Maryland a hub for expertise and job creation in this innovative new field. There are numerous public and private organizations throughout Maryland that interpret and analyze the data produced by satellites in support of national security and commercial customers. Satellite servicing is one of the signature capabilities in Maryland developed over its three decades of work with Hubble.
·         $161 million for the PACE program at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland – an increase of $14 million over Fiscal Year 2018. PACE is a first-of-its-kind mission out of NASA Goddard that will combine ocean and atmospheric research to learn how airborne particles and clouds impact the health of our oceans. This information can be used to understand this ecosystem and apply that information to fisheries research and management, and help us understand harmful algal blooms and other marine hazards that affect our economy.
·         $304.6 million for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. This is a key program for the scientific community and central to the nation’s ground- and space-based astrophysics programs. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland will operate the telescope after it is launched.
·         $352 million for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland – a $152 million increase over Fiscal Year 2018. Additionally, Senator Van Hollen secured language rejecting the proposal to cancel this mission, which was the highest priority of the most recent Astrophysics decadal survey to settle fundamental questions about the nature of dark energy. This mission is a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is intended to explore dark energy and dark matter and their influence on the expansion and mass of the universe, building on technology from the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. 
·         $162.4 million for Landsat 9 mission at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. The mission would extend the ability to detect and quantify changes on the global land surface at a scale where natural and man-made changes can be detected and differentiated. With data from Landsat satellites, scientists can track deforestation in, farmland irrigation, and the growth of urban areas. With this data, firefighters have also assessed the severity of wildfires, and scientists have mapped the retreat of mountain glaciers.
·         $97 million for the NASA Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) Mission – an increase of $81 million over Fiscal Year 2018. DART is intended to deflect asteroids or other near-earth objects away from the Earth. It is a part of the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, which is an international collaboration among the European Space Agency, NASA, Observatoire de la Côte d´Azur, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
·         $10 Million for the NASA Carbon Monitoring System. Congress established the Carbon Monitoring System in 2010 to develop tools that can precisely measure carbon stocks and fluxes in a particular geographic region. The technology is critical to verifying that states and other countries are living up to their obligations under greenhouse gas mitigation agreements. Researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have played an integral role in the program since its inception.
·         $6.4 Billion for the NASA Science Mission Directorate. The NASA Science Mission Directorate coordinates cutting-edge research on our planet and the universe beyond to support future missions. NASA Science is the third largest source of federal research funding for the University of Maryland.  The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in particular is an enormous driver of economic activity and jobs in the State of Maryland and supports major research and education programs at UMD with NASA Science funds, such as the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology (CRESST), a $160 million contract, and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), a $57 million grant.
·         $100 Million for NASA Solar Terrestrial Probes – an increase of $62.2 million over Fiscal Year 2018. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland contributes to the Solar Terrestrial Probe program, which has launched four missions since 2001 to learn more about the Sun and its effects. NASA has announced a fifth mission to continue this important work and expand on the data they continue to receive from the four existing spacecraft.
·         $98.3 million for NASA Hubble. The Hubble Space Telescope has delivered astonishing images of the universe since its launch in 1990 and continues to be managed by a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. This continued funding provides support for the astronomical community and mitigation of observatory aging.
·         $25 million for NASA Inter-Agency Coordination for Space Weather. Space weather, like solar flares, can have damaging impacts on radio communication, satellite electronics, and navigation systems. NASA, with assistance from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, continues to work to understand the drivers of space weather to improve our forecasting capabilities.