NASA will receive slightly more than a two-percent increase to its
budget under the FY 2006 Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations
Act. This compares favorably with the Bush Administration's plans to
reduce domestic discretionary funding by 1.0%. The House-Senate conference
committee, led by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL),
reached an agreement that "supports both the new vision [for space
exploration] and NASA's other core functions," according to the
conference report. The report also notes that, although faced with "difficult
choices in allocating the scarce resources," the conferees did
not accede to "the Administration's proposed reductions to the
aeronautics research program or science programs, and have partially
restored funding to these core programs."
The budget numbers and comparisons below require several caveats. First,
the FY 2005 numbers used for comparison are based on NASA's initial
FY 2005 operating plan, and include both emergency supplemental funding
and a rescission to that year's appropriations. The FY 2006 request
numbers used reflect the Administration's initial request, and not the
budget amendment that was submitted to Congress later.
In addition, an across-the-board rescission of 0.28 percent was applied
to all accounts in this FY 2006 appropriations bill. The conference
report amounts cited below include this rescission, based on the assumption
that it would be applied evenly across programs.
Total NASA: The FY 2005 budget was $16.070 billion. The Administration
requested $16.456 billion. The FY 2006 conference report provides $16.411
billion, an increase of 2.1% or $0.341 billion.
Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration: The FY 2005 budget was
$7.681 billion. The Administration requested $9.661 billion. The FY
2006 conference report provides $9.734 billion, an increase of 26.7%
or $2.053 billion.
Exploration Capabilities: The FY 2005 budget was $8.484 billion.
The Administration requested $6.763 billion. The FY 2005 conference
report provides $6.644 billion, a decrease of 21.7%, or $1.840 billion.
Below are some selected quotes from the conference report. Please note
that the quotations have not been adjusted for the rescission, and are
based on the Administration's amendment to its NASA budget request,
not the original request. The entire conference report (H. Rept. 109-272)
can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/.
VISION FOR SPACE EXPLORATION:
"The conferees are supportive of NASA's new vision and mission
for space exploration and the conference agreement includes funds for
the Administration's priorities for these activities. However, the conferees
remain concerned about the need to maintain the nation's leadership
in science and technology. To this end, the conferees have not agreed
to the Administration's proposed reductions to the aeronautics research
program or science programs, and have partially restored funding to
these core programs. However, given the serious nature of the budget
deficit facing the nation, the conferees were forced to make a number
of difficult choices in allocating the scarce resources available to
NASA. The conference agreement includes a budget that supports both
the new vision and NASA's other core functions."
CREW EXPLORATION VEHICLE:
"The conferees have agreed to provide funds to the Crew Exploration
Vehicle (CEV) and Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) according to the Exploration
Systems Architecture study, but are concerned about the impact the accelerated
schedules for the CEV and CLV will have within the agency. NASA is directed
to find an approach that will, to the maximum extent possible, mitigate
the impacts within NASA of this planned redirection of funding in fiscal
year 2006 and beyond for the CEV and CLV."
HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE:
"The conference agreement provides an increase of $50,000,000
above the budget request for the Hubble Space Telescope for a total
of $271,000,000. The conferees have provided this increase to continue
planning, preparation and engineering activities for the SM-4 servicing
mission pending a final decision on the use of the space shuttle by
the Administrator. The conferees reiterate their position that the Hubble
Space Telescope has been one of NASA's most successful programs and
remains one of the top priorities for the nation's space program. The
conferees direct the Administrator to continue to take all appropriate
steps to ensure Hubble's continued safe operations."
MARS EXPLORATION PROGRAM:
"A key element of the nation's vision for space exploration is
NASA's popular and scientifically important Mars exploration program.
The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have captured the
world's imagination as indicated by the more than 10 billion hits on
NASA's Mars website. Therefore, the conference agreement provides $680,000,000
for the Mars program. The conferees urge NASA to continue these important
programs within the context of the President's vision for space exploration."
"The conferees note that 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...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 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 conferees support
NASA moving forward with a conventionally powered mission to Jupiter
as soon as possible."
EPSCoR, SPACE GRANT COLLEGE AND FELLOWSHIPS:
"The conference agreement provides a total of $12,500,000 for
NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Additionally,
the conferees recommend a total of $30,200,000 for the National Space
Grant College and Fellowship Program. This amount will fund 40 grantees
at $611,250 each and 12 grantees at $425,000."
LANDSAT DATA CONTINUITY MISSION:
"Funding was proposed in the budget requests for NASA, the Department
of the Interior's United States Geological Survey, and the NOAA for
a Landsat Data Continuity Mission. The Administration proposed a Landsat-type
instrument to be flown on a NOAA spacecraft. The conferees now understand
that such a mission is no longer feasible for both funding and technical
reasons. The conferees direct the above agencies, in consultation with
the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to report back to the Committees
on Appropriations within 120 days of enactment of this Act with an appropriate
alternative for a Landsat mission."
Among other provisions in the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration
section of the conference report are the following: The conferees include
additional funding above the request for the Space Interferometry
Mission (SIM), stating that "NASA's search for planets
and life beyond our solar system is having increasing and dramatic success
with more than 150 planets now discovered.... The conferees have provided
these additional funds to ensure that SIM's important mission remains
on schedule." An amount equal to the budget request ($371.6 million)
is provided for the James Webb Space Telescope. The conferees
"fully support the emphasis being placed on the development of
a new Crew Launch Vehicle, understanding that this is
a critical element of the Exploration Systems Architecture." They
"note that the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle is critical
to NASA's exploration plans," and provide additional funding to
enable "NASA to initiate work on critical systems earlier than
is currently planned." The conferees provide additional funding
above the request for the Earth Science Applications program
and for the Living With a Star program, and set a cap
of $425.0 million on all future Discovery missions. The
conference report also contains funding for nearly 200 congressionally-directed
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION:
"Changes to the budget request include an overall reduction for
International Space Station of $80,000,000, of which $60,000,000 is
for crew cargo services, a reduction of $10,000,000 for space communications,
and $10,000,000 as a general reduction.... The conference agreement
provides a funding level for the International Space Station crew and
cargo services program of $198,000,000, which includes $98,000,000 in
carryover funds from fiscal year 2005 as well as $100,000,000 appropriated
in this Act. This funding level should be sufficient to address NASA's
needs in this area.... NASA is encouraged to utilize, to the fullest
extent possible, commercially developed domestic cargo resupply and,
ultimately, crew rotation capabilities for the International Space Station.
This should be a priority for NASA. Utilizing the market offered by
the International Space Station's requirements for cargo and crew will
help to spur true competition in the private sector, result in savings
that can be applied elsewhere in the program, and promote further commercial
opportunities in the aerospace sector."