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FYI Number 91: July 31, 2002

Senate VA/HUD Bill: NASA FY 2003 Appropriations

On July 25, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2003 VA/HUD appropriations bill, which provides funding for NASA and NSF among other agencies. Senate appropriators would provide a 2 percent increase for NASA. Funding for Human Space Flight, including the space station, would drop, while funding for the Science, Aeronautics and Technology account would increase. Within this account, the totals for Space Science, Earth Science, and Biological and Physical Research are not specified.

The total NASA budget would increase 2.0 percent over FY 2002 funding, from $14,901.6 million to $15,200.0 million. The Administration requested $15,000.0 million for FY 2003.

The Human Space Flight budget would decrease 10.3 percent, from $6,830.1 million to $6,130.9 million, equal to the request. Within this account, the International Space Station would receive $1,492.1 million as requested, an approximately 25.0 percent reduction from current funding, to continue assembly to reach the U.S. Core Complete configuration in 2004.

The Science, Aeronautics and Technology budget would increase 12.4 percent, from $8,047.8 million to $9,044.5 million. The request was $8,844.5 million. While funding totals for Space Science, Earth Science, and Biological and Physical Research are not provided, the committee would restore space science funding for the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission, which was omitted from the Administration's FY 2003 request, and provide the full request for the Mars Program, and the Hubble and Next Generation Space Telescopes.

Below are selected explanatory quotes from the Senate committee's report, S. 107-222. There are numerous earmarks in the sections on Space Science, Earth Science, and Biological and Physical Research; readers seeking more detailed information are urged to consult the full text of the report at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

SPACE SCIENCE:

"The Space Science Enterprise develops space observatories and directs robotic spacecraft into the solar system and beyond to investigate the nature of the universe.... The quest for this information, and the answers themselves, is intended to maintain scientific leadership, excite and inspire our society, strengthen education and scientific literacy, develop and transfer technologies to promote U.S. competitiveness, foster international cooperation to enhance programs and share their benefits, and set the stage for future space ventures."

Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission: Among the changes made to the budget request for space science, the committee added "$105,000,000 for the New Horizons Program for the Pluto-Kuiper Belt (PKB) mission to be used for the spacecraft, instruments, project management, the radioisotope thermoelectric generator and the launch vehicle. The Committee has added funding to continue development work on the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission as the first mission in the New Horizons Program. The Committee notes that the PKB mission meets all of the criteria for the New Horizons Program and expects the agency to include funding for PKB in subsequent budget submissions in order to launch the mission by 2006."

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe had planned to delay PKB until new power and propulsion technologies could be employed. The committee, however, would cut $9.0 million from his proposed nuclear power and propulsion programs intended to develop such technology:

"The Committee supports both new programs, but believes that the necessary technology will be slow to ramp up. Moreover, the Committee is concerned about out year budget costs of these programs, the Space Launch Initiative and Shuttle upgrades, all program that will need to complement each other."

Mars Program: "The Committee has provided the full budget request for the Mars Program."

Hubble Space Telescope: "The Committee has provided the full budget request for the Hubble Space Telescope and the Next Generation Space Telescope.... The Committee commends the Agency for the continued success of the Hubble Space Telescope and the extraordinary contributions it has made to the advancement of science."

Living With A Star: "The Committee remains strongly supportive of the Living With A Star [LWS] program because of the critical role its missions will play in understanding the effect of the Sun on our solar system particularly its impact on space weather which can have a profound impact on the Earth. Therefore, the Committee has provided the full budget request for technology development requested for the magnetospheric multiscale mission (MMS), the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Geospace Missions. Should the Agency wish to reallocate funds within these missions, the Committee will entertain a re-programming request in the operating plan provided that any re-programming preserves the LWS objective of maintaining contemporaneous science."

EARTH SCIENCE:

"This pioneering program of studying global climate change is developing many of the capabilities that will be needed for long-term environment and climate monitoring and prediction. Governments around the world need information based on the strongest possible scientific understanding. The unique vantage-point of space provides information about the Earth's land, atmosphere, ice, oceans, and biota as a global system, which is available in no other way. In concert with the global research community, the Earth Science Enterprise is developing the understanding needed to support the complex environmental policy decisions that lie ahead.... [T]he Committee is concerned about the potential for the administration to diminish NASA's pre-eminent role in earth science and earth science applications. As the Committee noted during its fiscal year 2003 hearings, the Agency's development and launch of a series of major earth science missions combined with a successful ground system that is processing and distributing the largest volumes of data ever received by civilian users from space are among NASA highest technological and scientific achievements. The Committee wishes to affirm its unequivocal support for expanding NASA's role in earth science and earth science applications."

Applications: "Within the applications program, the Committee believes that the Agency's approach needs more refinement and integration of emerging programs, like Synergy, the Regional Earth Science Applications Centers (RESACs), the Earth Science Information Partnerships (ESIPS) and the considerable in-house scientific capability at the NASA Centers. Such integration should not disrupt the existing program structure in 2003, but should plan for an evolutionary approach in fiscal year 2004. The Committee is pleased with efforts to integrate key Federal agency requirements as objectives of the applications program and expects a progress report on these efforts in the operating plan."

Remote Sensing: "The Committee strongly supports the development of remote sensing research and technology as a collaboration and partnership between NASA, universities and the private sector. The Committee commends both SSC and Goddard for their investment and commitment to the commercial aspects of remote sensing research and technology. There already have been significant advances made with regard to remote sensing applications in agriculture, flood mapping, environmental protection, urban planning, firefighting and land use issues. The Committee urges both Goddard and SSC to work together to continue to develop those remote sensing research and technology projects that have the strongest potential for commercial applications."

BIOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL RESEARCH:

"NASA's Biological and Physical Research (BPR) Enterprise recognizes the essential role biology will play in the 21st century and pursues the core of biological and physical sciences research needed to support NASA's strategic objectives. BPR fosters and enhances rigorous interdisciplinary research, closely linking fundamental biological and physical sciences in order to develop leading-edge, world-class research programs. BPR uses the unique characteristics of the space environment to understand biological, physical, and chemical processes, conducting science and technology research required to enable humans to safely and effectively live and work in space, and transferring knowledge and technologies for Earth benefits. BPR also fosters commercial space research by the private sector toward new or improved products and/or services on Earth, in support of the commercial use of space."

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION:

"The Committee has provided $1,492,100,000 for the International Space Station (ISS), the same as the budget request. This funding level will continue assembly missions through U.S. Core Complete (Flight 10A), currently planned for calendar year 2004, and support early research commensurate with the build-up of on-orbit utilization capabilities."

"In previous years, the Committee has criticized NASA's management of the ISS program. The lack of credible budget estimates, program mismanagement and the absence of any credible oversight forced the Committee to cut funding and impose cost caps on the program. Despite these actions by Congress, NASA was unable to correct the underlying problems associated with the program. In 2001, NASA announced that the ISS would require an additional $4,800,000,000 over previous estimates to complete the ISS, as planned.... As a result of these cost overruns, NASA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) eliminated certain program elements to reduce cost and provide additional time to re-scope the ISS with the international partners. In addition, NASA created an independent assessment team known as the ISS Management and Cost Evaluation (IMCE) Task Force to evaluate program management. The Committee supports the recommendations of the (IMCE) Task Force and the development of a Cost Analysis Requirements Document (CARD) to support cost estimates of the U.S. Core Complete baseline. Furthermore, the Committee notes the agency's intention to develop an integrated management action plan based on recommendations of the IMCE Task Force. The Committee fully supports this approach in order to provide the Congress with reliable cost estimates for the U.S. Core Complete and beyond."

"In addition, the Committee supports the recommendations of the Research Maximization and Prioritization Task Force (REMAP) as it pertains to ISS research. The Committee views the Task Force report as the foundation upon which the OBPR [Office of Biological and Physical Research] sets ISS research priorities and its organizational structure. The Committee notes that a final report on the REMAP recommendations is to be provided by the NASA Advisory Council during the third quarter of calendar year 2002. Given the importance of the REMAP report to the future of the ISS and the agency's overall research agenda, the Committee directs the Administrator to report to the Committees on Appropriations by December 1, 2001 on the implementation of the REMAP recommendations in relation to the ISS as well as the overall structure of the OBPR."

"The Committee remains concerned about Russia's continued policy of selling time on the ISS for tourists, especially since the guiding purpose for the construction of the ISS was to have a world class microgravity research platform, a goal which is still far away. The Committee urges NASA to strictly enforce the protocols developed in cooperation with the international partners to ensure that any space tourist is fully trained and physically capable of participating as a crew member on the ISS."

ACADEMIC PROGRAMS:

"Activities conducted within academic programs capture the interest of students in science and technology, develop talented students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, provide research opportunities for students and faculty members at NASA centers, and strengthen and enhance the research capabilities of the Nation's colleges and universities. NASA's education programs span from the elementary through graduate levels, and are directed at students and faculty."

EPSCoR: "The Committee recommendation has included $10,000,000 for the NASA EPSCoR Program, $5,400,000 above the budget request and the same as the fiscal year 2002 level. The Committee expects NASA EPSCoR to support a broad range of research areas in each EPSCoR State, drawn from Earth science, space science, aeronautics and space transportation technology, and human exploration and development of space, and to distribute the awards, competitively, to the largest number of eligible States possible."

Minority Universities: "The Committee has provided $82,100,000 for NASA's minority university research and education activities. This is the same as the budget request. Furthermore, the Committee supports the continuation of a stand-alone Minority University Research and Education Division."

TRANSFER OF SENSITIVE TECHNOLOGIES:

"The Committee remains sensitive to continuing risks regarding the illegal transfer and theft of sensitive technologies that can be used in the development of weapons by governments, entities and persons who may be hostile to the United States. The Committee commends both NASA and the NASA Inspector General (IG) for their efforts to protect sensitive NASA-related technologies. Nevertheless, this will remain an area of great sensitivity and concern as the development of technological advances likely will continue to accelerate. The Committee directs NASA and the NASA IG to report annually on these issues, including an assessment of risk."

Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3094

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