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FYI Number 89: June 14, 2005

House Bill Would Increase NASA Science, Exploration Funds

As reported in prior FYIs, the FY 2006 appropriations bill for Science, State, Justice, and Commerce (H.R. 2862) is currently on the House floor. This bill, and its accompanying report (H. Rept. 109-118), provide the House Appropriations Committee's recommendations for NASA funding as well as funding for a number of other departments and agencies. Under this bill, the total NASA budget, as well as the budgets for NASA's science programs, aeronautics, and exploration would all be increased slightly from FY 2005 funding. House appropriators, headed by Science, State, Justice, and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA), expressed support for President Bush's space exploration initiative, but not at the expense of other core NASA programs. Stating that "The Committee is very concerned about the reductions to NASA's science programs especially the drastic reductions to earth science programs," the committee report language recommends increasing funding for science programs above the Administration's request, while reducing the Administration's proposed funding for exploration capabilities.

Selected quotations from the report are provided below. For the complete text of the report, see http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app06.html.

According to the report, total NASA funding would grow by $274.7 million, or 1.7 percent, from $16.197 billion to $16.471 billion. The Administration's request was $16.457 billion. The report states, "The Committee is supportive of NASA's new vision and mission for space exploration and the recommendation includes funds for the Administration's priorities for these activities. The Committee is very concerned about the need to maintain the nation's leadership in science and technology. To this end, the Committee has not agreed to the Administration's proposed reductions to the aeronautics research program or science programs, and has fully restored aeronautics to the fiscal year 2005 level and partially restored the proposed reduction to science programs. However, given the serious nature of the budget deficit facing the nation the Committee was forced to make a number of difficult choices in allocating the scarce resources available to NASA and has proposed what it believes is a more balanced budget that both supports the new vision but does not abandon NASA's other core functions."

SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND EXPLORATION:

The Committee recommends $9.726 billion, an increase of $265.1 million, or 2.8 percent, over FY 2005 funding of $9.461 billion. The Administration's request was $9.661 billion.

According to the report, "Increases above the budget request include $40,000,000 for science programs of which $30,000,000 is for the Glory mission and $10,000,000 is for the Space Interferometry Mission; $53,900,000 for aeronautics research programs; $2,000,000 for education programs; and $50,000,000 for other initiatives terminated in the request. Reductions to the budget request include $25,000,000 from exploration systems research and technology; $25,000,000 from human systems research and technology; and $31,050,000 from corporate administrative costs of which $10,000,000 is from the Office of Advanced Planning and Integration, which is being eliminated."

Earth Science: "The Committee is very concerned about the reductions to NASA's science programs especially the drastic reductions to earth science programs designed to provide a better understanding of our planet. To paraphrase the National Academy of Sciences concerning these science programs, decades of research has improved health, enhanced national security, and helped generate economic growth by providing critical environmental information. While the National Academy is currently undertaking a decadal review of NASA's earth science programs, at the behest of the Congress the National Academy has provided an interim report detailing what it believes are short-term urgent science requirements."

Glory mission: "Within the funds provided for science, $35,000,000 is included for the Glory mission, an increase of $30,000,000 above the budget request. Without this additional funding, the amount designated in the fiscal year 2006 budget request would clearly have resulted in the unraveling of Glory as an integrated mission and resulted in a certain delay in the launch of key instruments several years beyond the planned launch date. NASA's Glory program is a key Global Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) mission and critical to the achievement of CCRI's science goals."

Hubble Space Telescope: "The Committee applauds the decision by the Administrator to reassess a fourth servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The Hubble Space Telescope has made numerous and extraordinary contributions to the field of science and has inspired a new generation's interest in space and space science. This mission is not only essential to maintaining the capability of the most scientifically successful space astronomy mission to date, it also provides for the least expensive approach to service Hubble and at the same time provides for the deorbit capability that will assure HST's safe reentry. Repairs and upgrades made during the fourth servicing mission would continue the telescope's dramatic discoveries that will serve as a legacy for NASA and our Nation."

Space Interferometry Mission: "The Committee continues to support the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) and is providing an additional $10,000,000 over the budget request for this mission. NASA's search for planets and life beyond our solar system is having increasing and dramatic success with over 150 planets now discovered. SIM is expected to examine 2000-3000 stars for planetary systems to fulfill a critical step in the search for Earth-like planets."

Jupiter Icy Moons: "The National Academy of Sciences Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey of planetary scientists concluded that the highest priority of the scientific community is an orbiter/lander mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. The Administration supported just such a mission, and had proposed that the first or second mission of the Prometheus Nuclear Systems and Technology Program would be the Jupiter Icy Moons Mission (JIMO). NASA no longer plans a JIMO mission for Project Prometheus because of funding and technical considerations, and because the NASA Administrator has determined that funding is needed for near-term nuclear power requirements to implement the President's vision for space exploration. Recognizing that these deep space missions usually take a decade to complete from design to orbit, the Committee supports NASA moving forward with a conventionally powered mission to Jupiter. The Committee urges NASA to consider incorporating a non-nuclear Europa mission as part of its fiscal year 2007 budget request."

The Committee also includes $50.0 million for continuation of "Congressional priority programs that were terminated in the NASA budget request."

EXPLORATION CAPABILITIES:

The Committee recommends $6.713 billion, an increase of $8.5 million, or 0.1 percent, above FY 2005 funding of $6.704 billion. The Administration's request was $6.763 billion.

The report states, "Decreases below the budget request include $10,000,000 for the International Space Station (ISS). The Committee believes that this small reduction is appropriate given the uncertainties surrounding the nature and scope of the science to be conducted on the ISS. In addition, the Cargo and Crew Services program is reduced by $10,000,000. The Committee is very supportive of this program, but delays associated with program implementation will result in a significant percentage of the funds provided in fiscal year 2005 being carried forward into this fiscal year.... Reductions to this portion of the budget also include $10,000,000 from Rocket Propulsion Testing, $10,000,000 from Space Communications, and $10,000,000 from Launch Services. The reduction to Launch Services should not be taken from the Small Payload Launch program."

Below are additional quotations from the report that might be of interest to readers:

Crew Exploration Vehicle: "The Committee supports the Administrator's plan to accelerate development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) to minimize the gap between the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the first operational flight of the CEV. To help achieve this goal, the Committee supports the proposed ‘non traditional' competitive acquisition of a United States ‘earth to orbit' crew and/or cargo transfer capability. The Committee believes this approach offers affordable and credible risk mitigation for accelerating post-shuttle United States human spaceflight."

Science Portfolio: "[T]he Committee supports NASA's objective to rebalance the content of its overall science portfolio to ensure appropriate resources among planetary science, Earth science, solar physics and astronomy. The Committee understands that NASA is currently reviewing the implications of these objectives and directs NASA to report to the Committee on the outcome of these reviews as soon as possible after their completion."

Public Awareness: "The Committee directs NASA to engage in a national awareness campaign...to articulate missions, recent accomplishments and recruitment efforts to young Americans. This will also provide a mechanism by which to excite and encourage our young people to enter the fields of science, math, and engineering and in doing so help maintain America's leadership in these fields."

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

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