NASA is internally divided into major program areas, each of which receives funding to manage their own projects. Funding varies year-to-year, but generally about 50% of NASA's annual budget is spent on human spaceflight activities, 30% on robotic missions and scientific research, and the remainder split between aeronautics, technology development programs, staff salaries, facilities management, and other overhead. NASA requested $25.2 billion in fiscal year  (FY) 2021 President's Budget proposal, a 11.9 percent or $2.7 billion increase from FY 2020. As  can be seen in the following table, this increase is concentrated in exploration activities, with both the Deep Space Exploration Systems account and the Space Technology Mission Directorate receiving increases of a little over 40 percent in the request. The Budget increases funding for innovative programs that would land astronauts on the Moon and support precursor missions and advanced technologies that would enable further exploration. The Budget also supports a broad range of NASA programs that are not directly supporting the Moon to Mars program, and includes reductions to some lower-performing programs.

The following table presents a summary of NASA’s FY 2021 Presidential Budget Request.

2020 Enacted FY 2021 Presidential Budget Proposed
NASA Total (in $ millions) $22,629 $25,246
Science $7,139 $6,307
Planetary Science $2,713 $2,660
Earth Science $1,972  $1,768
Astrophysics $1,306 $ 831
WFIRST $511  $0
James Webb Space Telescope $423 $414.7
Heliophysics $725  $633
Exploration $6,018 $8,762
Orion Crew Vehicle $1,407 $1,400
SLS $2,586  $2,257
Lunar Gateway $450 $739
Lunar Lander $600  $3,370
Space/Exploration Technology* $1,100  $1,578
Space Operations $4,140  $4,187
Aeronautics $784 $819
STEM Engagement $120  $0
Safety, Security, & Mission Services $2,913 $3,010
Construction and Environmental Compliance $373 $539
NASA Inspector General $41.7 $44.2

* Note that since FY 2019, NASA’s budget requests have proposed new names for some NASA’s programs. In the enacted FY 2019 appropriation, Education became Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement. The Administration has also proposed renaming Space Technology as Exploration Technology; Exploration as Deep Space Exploration Systems; and Space Operations as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Spaceflight Operations.

President's Budget Request Source Documents:

FY 2021 Agency Fact Sheet

FY 2021 Congressional Justification

FY 2021 Summary Budget Brief

To learn more about NASA’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget, visit: NASA Budget webpage.

Updated October 2020, Kevine Lidoro