Senate Budget proposal includes $1.3 Billion for HLS – with a catch

A new bill proposed by Congress would give NASA more money for its Human Landing System program, but requires another landing contract.

The Senate just released a proposed budget that includes appropriations for NASA’s controversial Human Landing System program. The proposal offers $1.295 billion towards the program, which is actually $100 million more than NASA requested of Congress. However, the proposal demands that the funds be put towards two landers. This actually means that each lander has less funding individually than in 2021, where NASA selected SpaceX’s Starship proposal with $850 million.

The Senate proposal also explicitly criticizes NASA, stating that the space agency predicted that they would require $4,388,100,000 in 2022 for HLS, but instead only requested $1,195,000,000 in appropriations. In response to this, the proposal states that NASA’s “rhetoric of blaming Congress and this Committee for the lack of resources needed to support two HLS teams rings hollow.” This section wraps up with a final jab about how “milestones were often not met” by NASA.

The budget proposal explains the decision to require two landers: “The Committee believes having at least two teams providing services using the Gateway should be the end goal of the current development program.” The proposal elucidates that the funding must be used to ensure “redundancy and competition,” for “research, development, testing, and evaluation.” If the budget passes, NASA would be required to provide a public plan within 30 of days outlining how they will comply with the new HLS directives, along with needed resources for fiscal years 2023-2026.

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