NASA releases 2015 budget with some mission cuts

Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy

SOFIA, or the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, is the largest airborne observatory in the world. But if funders outside of NASA don't provide additional funding for the airplane-based telescope, it could be put in storage next year.


NASA received a proposed $17.5 billion in President Obama’s budget recommendations for fiscal year 2015, released March 4. The proposal, down from the $17.6 billion that NASA received in the 2014 budget, will support the space agency’s goals of launching the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, extending the life of the International Space Station until 2024 and sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s. 

The proposal includes funding for about 35 missions being prepared for launch and 60 missions already in operation. But it outlines a plan to place the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, in storage by 2015 unless partners can provide NASA’s portion of the funding for the telescope. The space agency provides 80 percent of the funding for SOFIA. NASA officials made the announcement during a March 4 press conference.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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