Congress rewards NASA’s accomplishments with $1.3 billion in extra funding for 2016

After years of penny-pinching from a lack of federal funding, the folks over at NASA woke up to a bit of pleasant news this morning when Congress announced a $1.3 billion increase for its 2016 budget. Found within Congress’ anticipated 2016 federal budget plan, the agreed upon funding is actually a bit more than what was requested, signaling a radical shift in the government’s (ahem, Republican’s) appreciation of the agency’s research. Assuming the budget passes without any major changes, NASA should expect roughly $19.3 billion doled out to its various branches and research sectors.

What’s most impressive about Congress’ statement is the fact NASA’s final 2016 budget amount is more than President Barack Obama originally asked for. Cited in the fiscal year 2016 request, Obama asked for a mere $18.5 billion but, somehow, Congress one-upped him. With sectors like the NASA Planetary Science Division facing a possible permanent cut, the influx in cash flow allows the agency to continue to operate across the board. Moreover, a higher budget also opens up the possibility for NASA to stop leaning on Russia for trips to the International Space Station.

Photo taken by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly of the ISS flying over an aurora
Photo taken by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly of the ISS flying over an aurora NASA

One area of the budget NASA is surely happy to see funded is with its Commercial Crew program. With roughly $1.2 billion on tap, the agency has the ability to move forward with allowing companies like SpaceX to manufacture and operate spacecraft bound for the ISS. Previous versions of the bill showed hundreds of millions of dollars of less funding, however, Congress eventually decided to match what was asked; the first time this has ever happened with the Commercial Crew program.  Congress even went so far as to strongly urge NASA to use this funding in a way that promises commercial launches by 2017.

Other notable areas receiving funding include NASA’s Earth Science research program (of which NASA administrator Charles Bolden stumped for this summer in person at Congress), Human Exploration Capabilities, and the Space Launch System, among others. So instead of programs deciding what to cut and what to keep, they’ll instead get to decide on which piece of advanced research to dive into next while keeping everything on the table.

Perhaps the best way to interpret this news is this: it’s a good day to be NASA. While the budget has yet to officially pass the House and Senate — voting is scheduled for Friday — it’s clear that NASA’s recent momentum is becoming impossible for the government to ignore. It’s one thing to shoot for the stars in terms of research and development, but when a generally NASA-opposed Congress begins to finally listen, that’s when you know the hard work has (literally) paid off.


Chinese court upholds Qualcomm's complaint that Apple infringed on two patents

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.