House appropriators completed their version of the FY 2003 VA/HUD funding
bill (H.R. 5605) on October 9. This bill would increase NASA's budget
by 2.7 percent over FY 2002. According to the committee's report, Human
Space Flight funding would fall by 11.3 percent, while the Science,
Aeronautics and Technology budget would grow by 15.9 percent. Within
the SAT category, it appears that Space Science, Earth Science, and
Biological and Physical Research would all see healthy increases. By
comparison, the Senate bill, completed in July, would provide increases
of 2.0 percent for NASA and 12.4 percent for Science, Aeronautics and
The next step would normally be a vote by the full House on H.R. 5605,
and then a House-Senate conference to reconcile the differing versions
of the bill. Members of Congress are not expected to return to continue
work on the appropriations bills until sometime after the November 5
elections. The latest (and sixth so far) continuing resolution to keep
government programs funded will run until November 22. With so many
spending bills yet to be finalized, it is unclear when, or how, the
FY 2003 appropriations process will end.
The committee report provides details on the House committee's actions.
Selected portions of the report are quoted below. The entire report
(H. Rpt. 107-740) can be viewed at http://thomas.loc.gov/
and FYI #91
provides details of the Senate version.
HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT:
"The Committee recommends a total of $6,130,900,000 for the human
space flight account in fiscal year 2003." According to the report,
this is identical to the budget request and 11.3 percent less than FY
2002 funding of $6,912.4 million.
This section of the report contains no specific language on the International
SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND TECHNOLOGY:
"The Committee recommends $9,144,500,000 for Science, Aeronautics
and Technology in fiscal year 2003. The amount recommended is an increase
of $300,000,000 to the budget request" and 15.9 percent over the
fiscal year 2002 appropriation.
According to the report, "This appropriation provides for the
research and development activities of the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration. These activities include: space science, life
and microgravity science, earth sciences, aero-space technology, advanced
concepts and technology, space operations, and academic programs. Funds
are also included for the construction, maintenance, and operation of
Unlike the Senate committee report, the House report provides specific
funding levels for the Offices of Space Science, Earth Science, and
Biological and Physical Research.
"Within the Space Science portion of this account, the Committee
recommends $3,556,200,000, a net increase of $141,900,000 to the budget
request." This is an increase of 24.8 percent over the FY 2002
The report notes that "The Committee is supportive of the New Frontiers
Program as a competitive process to undertake missions to the outer
planets. The Committee is concerned that the New Frontiers Program as
proposed by NASA may be unduly constrained by a uniform cap on mission
costs of $650 million. Since the purpose of the program is to undertake
scientifically valuable missions, the cap should not limit the mission
options being considered. The Committee supports New Frontiers with
a flexible cap for each new opportunity ($500 million to $1 billion
in fiscal year 2002 dollars) prior to open competition, giving due consideration
to specified scientific objectives."
Of the "adjustments" made to the budget request, the committee
would provide an increase of $105.0 million for the Kuiper Belt/Pluto
mission and an increase of $19.9 million for the Mars program "to
cover recent cost increases." The Nuclear Electric Propulsion program
and the Nuclear Power System program would be reduced by $10.0 million
and $7.0 million, respectively, from the request.
An additional $40.0 million over the request would be provided for
the Europa mission. "In light of the high priority by the National
Academy decadal study for a Europa Orbiter Mission and the public support
for Europa exploration as indicated by the recent survey of the Planetary
Society," the report says, "the Committee directs NASA to
conduct a focused technology program and begin Phase A activities to
ensure that this mission is ready at the earliest possible opportunity
and that NASA preserves its core capabilities to implement and manage
such a mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Committee recommendation
includes $30,000,000 for this activity and an additional $10,000,000
for instrument technology. The Committee is aware that JPL has an relationships
with research universities on its outer planetary programs and anticipates
that a majority of the $10,000,000 million will be expended solidifying
An increase of $7.5 million over the request would be provided "for
development of a lightweight carrier pallet to support the Hubble Space
Telescope program. The recent success of the Hubble servicing mission
has underscored the continued importance of the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA's plan for HST has been to discontinue servicing missions after
2004 in order to create a funding wedge for the next generation space
telescope (NGST), the community's highest priority, and to return HST
to earth in 2010. Although this scenario creates an important funding
wedge, it also leads to a significant probability that HST will degrade
over the intervening six-year period and become inoperable well before
2010. This gap may be so long that HST archival data alone may not sustain
a productive scientific community. The Committee directs that NASA carry
out an in-depth study of possible alternatives to the 2010 return mission
that would increase the probability of operating HST until NGST becomes
available. This study should address the possibility of an additional
servicing mission, SM5, and as an alternative, a final servicing mission
in 2007 in lieu of the 2010 mission that would include a means of disposing
of HST other than by Shuttle return. This study should address the relative
costs of such scenarios, the potential scientific benefits, and the
mission constraints that will need to be considered for the 2010 return
"Within the Earth Sciences portion of this account, the Committee
recommends $1,675,000,000, a net increase of $46,600,000 to the budget
request." This is a 6.5 percent increase over FY 2002 funding.
The report states, "The fiscal year 2002 appropriations bill and
accompanying reports gave NASA Congressional direction to establish
an implementation plan for Earth science applications partnerships.
NASA completed the report on its implementation plan in June of 2002
and forwarded the report to the Committee for its review. The Committee
has reviewed the report and finds that it offers a good basis on which
to build a credible program utilizing remote sensing data from the Earth
Observing System. Accordingly, the Committee recommendations do not
include any funding for new remote sensing applications centers, but
urges NASA to follow through with its implementation plan which calls
for a widely competed program."
BIOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL RESEARCH:
"Within the Biological and Physical Research portion of this account,
the Committee recommends $854,200,000, a net increase of $11,900,000
to the budget request." This is an increase of 19.6 percent over
the FY 2002 level.
"The Committee," the report says, "remains committed
to a healthy and productive Materials Science research program. This
program has undergone multiple reviews by the National Research Council.
It has also produced a backlog of well-respected investigators whose
experiments have undergone multiple peer reviews, certifying that they
will provide useful scientific returns that can only be obtained in
the microgravity environment of space.
"The Committee is concerned that recent changes to the Materials
Science program have jeopardized the ability of the International Space
Station to support a robust materials science research program. Therefore,
the Committee expects NASA to maintain its commitment to a healthy materials
research program, which at a minimum includes the timely completion
of the Materials Science Research Rack - 1, its experiment modules and
module inserts, and the planned, peer-reviewed materials investigations
that were to utilize this facility."
Among the adjustments to the budget request, the committee would cut
$11.2 million "from the Generations program. The Committee recognizes
the value of the research being proposed through the Generations program,
but finds the program too unaffordable at this time given shortages
in funding for equipment for the International Space Station."
An increase of $8.0 million is provided "for procurement of animal
and plant habitats for the international space station."
"Within the Academic Programs portion of this account, the Committee
recommends $178,950,000 an increase of $35,250,000 to the budget request."
"The Committee has serious concerns that too few students are
pursuing advanced degrees in aerospace science and engineering, with
a result that the Nation's future in the utilization and exploration
of space will be compromised.... NASA, with its longstanding support
of university-based research, is in a unique position to ensure that
the university research base, and the educational opportunities that
accompany it, are sufficient to the Nation's needs." NASA is directed
to work with research universities to develop a plan to increase "the
number of students pursuing advanced degrees in the presence of vibrant
university research efforts. The plan should include means to increase
the number of university research and educational groups, to increase
the number of new, young faculty; to build cooperative relationships
between universities and NASA centers; and means for attracting and
supporting students. The plan should be submitted to the Committee by
March 15, 2003 and will serve as the basis for consideration of the
fiscal year 2004 NASA budget.
"The Committee encourages NASA to develop closer working relationships
with universities in regions adjacent to national laboratories. National
laboratories have assets and capabilities that are important to graduate
student support and collaborations with regional universities."
Among its changes to the budget request, the committee would provide
an additional $5.4 million for the EPSCoR program to bring its budget
up to the FY 2002 level of $10.0 million. An increase of $5.0 million
for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship program would fund
this program at the FY 2002 level of $24.1 million. "By this action,
the Committee has funded the core programs of the 52 consortia, including
some modest upgrades. NASA is encouraged to use these consortia to continue
workforce development initiative to attract and retain educated, skilled
diverse employees for [NASA] and aerospace industries. It is imperative
that NASA encourage additional young people to pursue careers in science
and engineering and these consortia are on the front lines for this