NASA's budget for exploration would grow substantially, while its science
funding would drop slightly, in the FY 2006 budget request released
by the White House on Monday. The total NASA budget would climb 2.4
percent, from $16.070 billion in FY 2005 to $16.456 billion. Funding
would be provided to develop a robotic mission to deorbit the Hubble
Space Telescope, but no funds are proposed for a servicing mission.
"The budget maintains resolute focus on exploration priorities
and critical milestones, based on our science priorities," outgoing
NASA Administrator O'Keefe said in his statement on the budget. Regarding
NASA's science programs, O'Keefe indicated that while the science budget
would decline for FY 2006, it is expected to grow in future years: "The
[request] for the Science Mission Directorate builds on our recent scientific
successes and projects a 23 percent increase in the total science budget
by 2010." To the extent that across-year comparisons can be made,
the FY 2006 request for NASA science programs is also lower than the
FY 2004 funding level.
According to agency budget documents, in order to focus on the exploration
initiative, NASA has again reorganized its corporate structure by streamlining
and changing its programs. It has now established four Mission Directorates:
Science, Exploration Systems, Space Operations, and Aeronautics. This
makes funding comparisons between FY 2006 and previous years difficult.
For the comparisons below, the numbers used are taken from the FY 2006
request and NASA's FY 2005 "Initial Operating Plan," which
provides FY 2005 funding in the context of the new Directorates.
Further details on NASA's budget request are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/about/budget/index.html
. Most of the information and quotes below are from the NASA FY 2006
Budget Request Summary.
SCIENCE: Down 0.9%, or $50.9 million, from $5527.2 million to
Solar System Exploration - up 2.3% to $1900.5 million.
The Universe - down 0.1% to $1512.2 million.
Earth-Sun System - down 4.3% to $2063.6 million.
According to NASA budget documents, "The newly organized Science
Mission Directorate (SMD)...seeks to understand the origins, evolution,
and destiny of the universe and to understand the nature of the strange
phenomena that shape it. SMD also seeks to understand: the nature of
life in the universe and what kinds of life may exist beyond Earth;
the solar system, both scientifically and in preparation for human exploration;
and the Sun and Earth, changes in the Earth-Sun system, and the consequences
of the Earth-Sun relationship for life on Earth."
Hubble Space Telescope: Within the Science Mission Directorate,
funding for the Hubble Space Telescope would be reduced from $215.7
million in FY 2005 to $190.7 million in the request. Funding would be
provided to develop a robotic means for deorbiting the Hubble at the
end of its useful life, but no money is slated for a servicing mission
to extend its scientific life.
EXPLORATION SYSTEMS: Up 17.9%, or $480.9 million, from $2684.5
million to $3165.4 million.
Constellation Systems - up 113.0% to $1120.1 million.
Exploration Systems Res. & Tech. - up 27.2% to $919.2 million.
Prometheus Nuclear Systems & Tech. - down 26.0% to $319.6
Human Systems Res. & Tech. - down 19.7% to $806.5 million.
NASA budget documents state: "The role of the Exploration Systems
Mission Directorate (ESMD) is to develop a constellation of new capabilities,
supporting technologies, and foundational research that enables sustained
and affordable human and robotic exploration. The research and technology
development activities of the former Exploration Systems Enterprise
and former Biological and Physical Research Enterprise have been merged
into ESMD. In this way, ESMD can integrate fully the broad engineering
systems infrastructure requirements and the critical human system requirements
necessary for human exploration of the solar system to ensure safety,
sustainability, and exploration crew effectiveness."
SPACE OPERATIONS: Up 0.9%, or $58.6 million, from $6704.4 million
to $6763.0 million.
International Space Station - up 10.8% to $1856.7 million.
Space Shuttle - down 0.3% to $4530.6 million.
Space & Flight Support - down 22.6% to $375.6 million.
The budget documents state that "Space Operations Mission Directorate
(SOMD) programs ensure that NASA's human and robotic explorers have
reliable, safe, and affordable access to space while creating new exploration
and research opportunities through the extension of human presence in
space. The SOMD enables NASA to achieve its goals by providing: transportation
systems like the Space Shuttle, operational research facilities in space
like the International Space Station (ISS); and space communications
systems and its supporting infrastructure. The SOMD also provides the
unique human system necessary to open the space frontier as broadly
AERONAUTICS: Down 6.0%, or $53.9 million, from $906.2 million
to $852.3 million.
According to NASA budget documents, this directorate "supports
NASA's mission to understand and protect Earth by playing a key role
in the technology developments needed to resolve the challenges faced
by the aeronautics community and create a safer, more secure, environmentally
friendly, and efficient national aviation system."
EDUCATION PROGRAMS: Down 23.0%, or $49.8 million, from $216.7
million to $166.9 million.
The budget documents state that NASA's Education Programs "will
provide unique teaching and learning experiences through the Agency's
research and flight missions. Students and educators will work with
NASA and university scientists using real data to study Earth, explore
Mars, and conduct scientific investigations.... And, NASA Education
programs will increase support to the Nation's universities providing
challenging research and internship opportunities for qualified students."
In remarks on the FY 2006 request, House Science Committee Chairman
Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) commented, "As for NASA, the budget appears
to be reasonable and balanced overall." Regarding the Hubble, Boehlert
said, "I would love to save the Hubble, but the decision needs
to be made in the context of the overall NASA budget.... Congress will
have to make a decision about Hubble very soon - probably no later than
the end of March - if a servicing mission of any kind is to have a realistic
chance of moving forward."