25 March 2024

The FY25 Presidential Budget Request for NASA

Yaswant Devarakonda American Astronomical Society (AAS)

On 11 March, the White House released the FY25 President’s Budget Request (PBR), which outlines the budget required for each federal agency based on the administration's priorities. NASA released its own budget request document that same day with more detail on the agency’s priorities for FY25. The total amount is still working under the budget caps set in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which limits the growth in government spending. While the White House sets the requested amount, Congress makes the final decision on agency funding and can choose to increase or decrease the level of funding into any program per their own priorities. The FY24 appropriations package was significantly delayed due to partisan debate over federal funding. This includes some aspects of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) funding such as the Mars Sample Return (MSR), which was due to receive the full request value of $949 million in the House bill but would have been cut to just $300 million in the Senate bill (learn more in our blog post about the competing bills). The FY24 appropriations package was finally signed into law on 8 March, three days before the FY25 PBR release. Since the FY25 PBR was being written while the FY24 appropriations were still being debated, the PBR is based almost entirely on the FY23 funding levels and priorities.  


FY23 Enacted 

FY24 Appropriations 

FY25 Request 





Science Mission Directorate 




Planetary Science Division 




Astrophysics Division 




Heliophysics Division 





For the FY25 PBR, NASA is set to receive the same funding as it received in FY23, which would technically be a reduction due to inflation. Due to the flat topline and increases in many non-science programs, SMD will receive a cut of 3% relative to FY23, the largest overall cut to any NASA directorate. Below, we examine some major programs within SMD that are highlighted in the PBR. 

Planetary Science Division (PSD)

Funding for the PSD in FY25 will be massively reduced, however, this decrease is mostly due to no money being set for MSR. The funding level for MSR is listed as TBD while the mission's architecture and new life cycle cost are being assessed. NASA will release their response to the Independent Review Board-2 Final Report in the coming months.  Even so, NASA does not plan to request supplemental funding to cover MSR mission expenses. This would mean that any funding for MSR in FY25 and beyond would need to come from other programs within PSD to remain under the division funding level. Some of this funding could come from the Outer Planets and Ocean Worlds program. That program will receive $200 million for Decadal Studies Missions despite the formulation for the Uranus Probe mission being delayed until 2027. During the recent SMD Town Hall, it was revealed that the allocation of this funding would be delayed until a decision is made on the MSR architecture.  

VERITAS, originally delayed due to budgetary and workforce concerns, will resume development and will target a 2031-2032 launch date. The other major Venus mission, DAVINCI, will be delayed into the 2031-2032 launch window as well. Dragonfly will receive $436.6 million and will launch in July of 2028, but the next New Frontiers AO is delayed until no earlier than 2026. The New Horizons mission is extended until 2028-2029, at which point the mission will go under review as it exits the Kiper belt. NASA is greatly expanding its contribution to the European Space Agency's (ESA’s) Rosalind Franklin rover after Russia left the partnership. NASA will take over launch services and will contribute instrumentation and additional engineering support. 

Astrophysics Division 

The funding for the Astrophysics Division will receive a slight increase of 4% in FY25 compared to FY23. Certain older missions will be receiving significant cuts in funding due to NASA’s decision to implement the recommendations of the Astro2020 decadal, prioritizing new missions and international partnerships. Hubble and Chandra are the most expensive missions that are in extended operations, comprising nearly 10% of the Astrophysics budget. In preparation of cuts to the two missions, NASA is organizing a mini-senior review to map out their future. Hubble will receive a 5% cut in FY25 relative to FY23, which will come from combining some HST and JWST operations at STScI and reducing the number of awarded grants and fellowships.  

Chandra is set for a major reduction in funding, from $68.3 million in FY23 to $41.1 million in FY25. The outyear funding will have further reductions, down to $26.6 million for FY26-FY28 and $5.2 million in FY29. This level of funding will lead to a period of minimal operations and would likely lead to an eventual closedown of Chandra. In the PBR, NASA states: “The Chandra spacecraft has been degrading over the mission lifetime to the extent that several systems require active management to keep temperatures within acceptable ranges for spacecraft operations. This makes scheduling and the post processing of data more complex, increasing mission management costs beyond what NASA can currently afford... temperature issues are reducing the ability to provide uninterrupted extended observing time and have greatly increased complexity of mission planning.” In an open letter to the community, Chandra X-Ray Center Director Dr. Patrick Slane contests this statement. The letter cites thermal modeling and advanced planning as allowing for observational efficiency that continues to exceed the initial mission requirements. 

The funding for JWST science will increase from $38.5 million in FY23 to $60 million in FY25. There are two missions led by international partners that enter the budget: ULTRASAT is a UV space telescope led by the Israel Space Agency; and LISA is a space-based gravitational wave observatory that ESA will lead. The Habitable Worlds Observatory will receive $50 million to begin work on the decadal recommended technology development of the mission. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is on track to launch in May of 2027. The Astrophysics Probe program is reviewing the mission proposals submitted last year. This PI-led probe mission will either be a far-IR imaging or spectroscopy probe or an X-ray probe. The final decision on probe selection will be made in the first quarter of FY25. 

For the Astrophysics Explorer program, NASA is requesting $269.3 million. This includes support for the SPHEREx and COSI missions but reduces the funding for future missions, which will result in the cancellation of the Missions of Opportunity selections for the 2021 and 2025 AOs as well as the ROSES-2023 Pioneers solicitations and selections. NASA selected UVEX as the next MIDEX mission earlier this year, targeting 2030 launch.  

Heliophysics Division 

The Geospace Dynamics Complex, a decadal priority mission, was delayed in the FY24 budget request and is slated for cancelation in the FY25 PBR due to budget constraints. It is currently the only future mission in NASA’s Living with a Star program, which will not receive any additional funding for future mission planning either. IMAP, which is part of the Solar Terrestrial Probes program, is on track for a December 2025 launch. The Carruthers Geocorona Observatory will launch alongside IMAP as a rideshare payload. Within the Helio-Explorers program, the HelioSwarm and Multi-Slit Solar Explorer will continue their development, while the MIDEX MO for 2025 will be canceled. The Heliophysics Technology program, which supports the development of technologies recommended in the 2013 Solar and Space Physics Decadal, is delayed until 2029. The next Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics is expected to be released this summer. 

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