Under the omnibus bill funding the remaining FY 2005 appropriations
(H.R. 4818), the House and Senate conferees gave NASA a substantial
downpayment on the President's Space Exploration Initiative. Even after
an across-the-board cut of 0.8 percent, NASA receives $16,070.4 million,
a 4.5 percent increase over FY 2005 funding of $15,378.0 million. The
Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account is reduced by 1.9 percent,
while the Exploration Capabilities account grows by 11.1 percent.
In the explanatory language accompanying the bill (H. Rept. 108-792),
the conferees identify the shuttle's return to flight and servicing
the Hubble Space Telescope as two of NASA's highest priorities for fiscal
year 2005. They also discuss, among other issues, the need for authorizing
legislation for the Space Exploration Initiative, the lack of specific
requirements for a Crew Exploration Vehicle, and NASA's ability to transfer
funds between the Exploration Capabilities and the Science, Aeronautics
and Exploration accounts.
SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND EXPLORATION: Down 1.9%, to $7,680.7
This is a decrease of $149.3 million from the FY 2004 level of $7,830.0
million. The request was $7,760.0 million; House appropriators recommended
$7,621.2 million, and Senate appropriators recommended $7,736.5 million.
Specific funding totals are not provided for space science, Earth science,
and biological and physical research. Over 100 earmarks are specified
in the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account.
EXPLORATION CAPABILITIES: Up 11.1%, to $8,358.5 million.
This is an increase of $837.5 million from the FY 2004 level of $7,521.0
million. The request was $8,456.0 million; House appropriators recommended
$7,496.8 million, and Senate appropriators recommended $7,811.1 million.
More than 25 earmarks are specified in the Exploration Capabilities
Below are selected quotations from the "joint explanatory statement."
All numbers provided have been reduced by the 0.8 percent across-the-board
EXPLORATION INITIATIVE: A significant portion of the
explanatory language addresses the space exploration initiative. "The
initiative is a very long-term endeavor and will require tens of billions
of dollars over the next two decades," the conferees state. "As
such, the initiative deserves and requires the deliberative benefit
of the Congress." The conferees require NASA to submit "a
comprehensive package of authorization legislation" and urge the
appropriate House and Senate authorizing committees "for action
to specifically endorse the initiative and provide authorization and
guidance." Additionally, the conferees ask NASA for information
on the programs it intends to phase out "in order to accommodate
SCIENCE PROGRAMS: The conferees direct the National Academies'
Space Studies Board, by March 15, 2005, to "conduct a thorough
review of the science that NASA is proposing to undertake under the
space exploration initiative and to develop a strategy by which all
of NASA's science disciplines, including Earth science, space science,
and life and microgravity science, as well as the science conducted
aboard the International Space Station, can make adequate progress towards
their established goals, as well as providing balanced scientific research
in addition to support of the new initiative."
HEAVY LIFT CAPABILITY: The conferees also ask NASA for
a report on the agency's "heavy lift capability needs and plans
to meet those needs immediately and in the future." Later in the
report, the conferees state that they are "prepared to commit funds
for development of a Crew Exploration Vehicle [CEV], but remain concerned
that there has not been enough initial planning to determine what specific
capabilities the CEV should have." They caution NASA against repeating
"the mistakes of the International Space Station," and call
for "an independent oversight committee capable of examining the
design, technology readiness, and most importantly the cost estimates
for the CEV."
HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE: The conferees provide $288.7
million for a Hubble servicing mission. "The conferees believe
a successful servicing mission to Hubble should be one of NASA's highest
priorities and have provided a substantial increase in funding to accomplish
UNRESTRAINED TRANSFER AUTHORITY: Note that the conferees
provide, at NASA's request, "unrestrained transfer authority between
the Exploration Capabilities account and the Science, Aeronautics and
Exploration account...because NASA needs flexibility as it completes
its transition to full cost accounting. While this transfer authority
can be used for purposes other than addressing full cost accounting
issues, NASA is cautioned to do so with restraint."
SPACE SHUTTLE: Declaring that "returning the shuttle
fleet to flight, the first step in the Space Exploration Initiative,
should be NASA's highest priority," the conferees provide $4,284.7
million for this activity. They state that "the space shuttle remains
the cornerstone of our Nation's heavy launch capability and is critical
to the future of the International Space Station and scientific research."
If additional resources are needed, the conferees state that the Administration
could submit a supplemental request, or NASA, with congressional approval,
could make "funding adjustments to augment the budget for the space
shuttle as necessary." Later in the report, the conferees "direct
NASA to keep the Committees on Appropriations...informed, in writing,
of any movement of funds related to the shuttle program, as well as
including the out-year impacts on all activities involved in the funding
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS): "As soon as the
shuttle is available to provide access to the ISS," the conferees
call for NASA to submit a plan "detailing the steps necessary to
complete construction of the ISS," including cost implications,
a construction timetable, and a timeline for "the eventual transition
to a new manned launch vehicle."
The complete text of the joint explanatory statement can be found at
http://thomas.loc.gov; at the bottom
of the first page select "Status of FY 2005 Appropriations bills,"
then click on the Conference Report (H. Rept. 108-792) of the Consolidated
Appropriations bill. The NASA provisions fall under Division I (VA/HUD/Independent
Agencies) of the joint explanatory statement.