NASA budget could mean dollars for JPL, California satellite makers

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NASA

An aerial view of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, California and the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains.

NASA outlined its five-year budget plans this week. California companies could land a lion’s share of the business.

NASA’s earth science budget will jump by 62 percent over the next five years. The space agency will spend much of that to replace aging satellites. Janice Dunn, deputy director of the California Space Authority, a trade group representing the state’s space industry, says there are five satellite manufacturers in the U.S. "Four of whom are in California."

Dunn says on the research side, California faces competition from Maryland, home of the Goddard Space Flight Center, which historically has had an edge in earth science. Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has focused on space missions, like the Mars Rovers.

But Dunn says JPL can compete on Planet Earth, too. "I think that JPL and Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland are natural competitors," she says, "in that they both do similar things. And as far as who might have an edge at this point, I think it’s fifty-fifty."

Congress still has to weigh in on NASA’s budget. Some members from Texas and Florida are lobbying to increase spending on human space flight.

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