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FYI Number 93: July 17, 2006

Senate Appropriators Recommend 3.1% Increase for NASA

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved legislation which would increase NASA FY 2007 funding by 3.1%. This is more than what the House approved in its version of the bill, but $35.0 million less than what the Bush Administration requested.

This bill was written by Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ranking Minority Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and their colleagues. When the subcommittee's bill went before the full committee, Mikulski and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) offered an amendment which was adopted by voice vote to provide $1 billion in emergency spending for costs incurred by NASA in recovering from the Columbia accident and Hurricane Katrina.

The following are selections from Senate Committee Report 109-280 which accompanies H.R. 5672. The full report will soon be available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app07.html

The following figures are based on the funding numbers in this Senate report. These number do not include the $1 billion in emergency spending that was added by the Mikulski-Hutchinson amendment, or the current emergency supplemental appropriation.

OVERALL FUNDING/COMMITTEE'S PERSPECTIVE ON NASA:

The Administration requested an increase of 3.4% or $545.6 million to $16,792.2 million from the current budget of $16,246.6 million.

The House-passed bill would increase funding by 2.8% or $460.4 million to $16,707.0 million.

The Senate Appropriations Committee bill would increase funding by 3.1% or $510.6 million to $16,757.2 million.

"NASA's new vision for space exploration maps out an aggressive role for the United States in manned space exploration. However, the potential costs are substantial and will likely be very difficult to maintain at the current estimated funding levels. In addition, the Committee feels strongly that NASA must show its commitment to those human spaceflight activities already underway. The Shuttle program and the construction of the International Space Station [ISS] continue to be the primary focus of the Nation's manned space flight activities. Nevertheless, the replacements for the Space Shuttle's manned and heavy lift capabilities must also be considered as part of any plan for continued human access to space but not to the detriment of existing obligations.

"The Committee is concerned that NASA will neglect areas that only tangentially benefit or do not fit within, the proposed exploration vision. Specifically, the fiscal year 2007 budget request proposes to defer or cancel existing programs and infrastructure that are not directly supportive of the explorative vision. These appear to be the programs sacrificed to provide the near-term budgetary resources necessary to facilitate the implementation of the Moon/Mars vision. However, the Committee believes that NASA must work diligently to balance existing programs and priorities with its plans for the future. Counterbalancing future priorities places existing research and expertise in jeopardy and risks squandering significant Federal investments that may be essential to the proposed explorations vision.

"In addition, the Committee is concerned that the strong, balanced science program that has served the Nation so successfully for many years is being left behind rather than being nurtured and sustained. That science program has been based on a set of carefully crafted scientific strategies that are founded on scientific and technical merit, relevance to overall national needs, and broad consultation with the scientific community."

SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS, AND EXPLORATION:

The Administration requested an increase of 9.2% or $887.1 million to $10,523.8 million from the current budget of $9,636.7 million.

The House-passed bill would increase funding by 8.8% or $845.3 million to $10,482.0 million.

The Senate Appropriations Committee bill would increase funding by 8.8% or $852.1 million to $10,488.8 million.

"NASA's Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration [SAE] account provides funding for the Science, Exploration Systems, and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorates and Education Programs. The SAE appropriation includes both the direct and the indirect costs of supporting the Mission Directorates and Education Program, and provides for: research; development; operations; salaries and related expenses; design, repair, rehabilitation, and modification of facilities and construction of new facilities; maintenance and operation of facilities; and other general and administrative activities supporting SAE programs."

"The activities of NASA's Space Science Enterprise seeks to chart the evolution of the universe, from origins to destiny, and understand its galaxies, stars, planetary bodies, and life. The Enterprise asks basic questions that have eternally perplexed human beings, such as how the universe began and evolved and whether there is other intelligent life in the universe. The quest for this information, and the answers themselves, are intended to maintain scientific leadership, excite and inspire our society, strengthen education and scientific literacy, develop and transfer technologies to promote U.S. competitiveness, foster international cooperation to enhance programs and share their benefits, and set the stage for future space ventures.

"The Committee reiterates its strong support for the servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope by the Space Shuttle once the Administrator has determined the Shuttle is safe to fly and certified its use for a Hubble servicing mission.

"The Committee has provided the full budget request of $443,100,000 for the James Webb Telescope and directs NASA to maintain the current launch schedule.

"The Committee has provided the full budget request of $73,400,000 for the Explorer program and expects NASA to support the continued development of the Interstellar Boundary Explorer to maintain its current launch schedule.

"The budget request eliminates funding for the SOFIA mission in fiscal year 2007. Since the budget was released, NASA has completed a review of its decision and has concluded that there are no scientific or technical reasons for cancelling the mission. Likewise, the Dawn mission was initially cancelled by NASA, only to be reinstated after complete information about the mission was reviewed. This calls into question the credibility of the science directorate in making budget decisions and determining scientific priorities.

"The Committee expects NASA to come up with a plan to fund the SOFIA mission in 2007 from within available funds through a reprogramming request subject to section 505 of this act. In determining the funding strategy for this program, the Committee directs NASA to follow the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences Decadal survey in Astronomy and Astrophysics when setting mission and budget priorities. Missions that are ranked higher in the surveys should be given priority over missions that are ranked lower in priority with launch dates that are far into the future.

"The Committee has included an additional $16,500,000 for the Living With A Star Program as follows: an additional $5,000,000 for the Geospace Radiation Belt Mapper to accelerate launch to January 2011; $4,000,000 for pre-phase A definition on the Sentinels Program; and $7,500,000 for Solar Probe to retire technical and cost risk for the missions thermal protection system.

"The National Academy of Sciences has recommended that NASA and the Department of Energy work together to develop a Joint Dark Energy Mission [JDEM]. The Committee strongly supports development of the JDEM through full and open competition with project management residing at the appropriate NASA center.

"The Committee supports continued development of NASA's Planetary Aircraft Risk Reduction High-Altitude Deployment Demonstration Program.

"The Committee has provided the budget request of $120,000,000 for the Juno-Jupiter Polar Orbiter mission and fully expects NASA to maintain this mission and its out-year budget profile to accommodate a 2010 launch as originally envisioned.

"Earth science has been a critical part of the balanced space program long advocated by this Committee. The Committee remains fully committed to a robust Earth science program at NASA and the Committee expects NASA to remain fully committed to earth science, with future missions that reflect a serious commitment to earth science as a vital part of the Nation's space program.

"The Committee fully expects this implementation profile to have a continuous mixture of small-, medium-, and observatory-class earth science missions that guarantee regular and recurring flight opportunities for the earth science community.

"The recommendation includes an increase of $15,000,000 above the budget request for the NASA Earth Science Applications Program. This funding increase shall only be used to support new competitively selected applications projects to be selected during fiscal year 2007. These projects will integrate the results of NASA's Earth observing systems and earth system models (using observations and predictions) into decision support tools to serve applications of national priority including, but not limited to: Homeland Security; Coastal Management; Agriculture Efficiency; and Water Management and Disaster Management.

"In Senate Report 109-88 accompanying the fiscal year 2006 appropriations for NASA, the Committee directed NASA to guarantee that the EOSDIS core system remain the operational foundation for all new Earth science missions. The Committee strongly reiterates this view and directs NASA to follow this direction in implementing future Earth science missions. The Committee does not support development of new, separate data systems for future Earth science missions and cautions the agency against taking further action that does not follow the guidance contained in Senate Report 109-88 or the report accompanying this act.

"While the Committee supports continuation of the Landsat program and a follow-on Landsat mission, the Committee has provided no funding for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission in fiscal year 2007. The Committee does not agree with the agency's proposed procurement strategy and directs the agency to suspend any further procurement activity until enactment of the fiscal year 2007 State, Science, Justice, Commerce Appropriations Act.

"The agency's proposed procurement strategy for Landsat closely resembles the failed NPOEES procurement and marks a significant departure from previous Landsat procurement policy. The Committee urges NASA to return to the previous procurement model that fully competes separate elements of the mission with a NASA center serving as project integrator and manager. This procurement model ensures the best value for NASA and the taxpayer.

"The Committee recommends the budget request of $28,400,000 for continued operation of the Independent Verification and Validation [IV&V] Center in Fairmont, West Virginia.

"The Committee is supportive of the vision for exploration and provides $894,700,000 for the Crew Exploration Vehicle [CEV]. The Committee also funds the Crew Launch Vehicle at $836,700,000 for the Crew Launch Vehicle [CLV] and $373,100,000 for Launch and Mission systems to support facility needs. The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program is provided $121,000,000, the same as the budget request.

"the Committee further provides $312,700,000 for the Robotic Lunar Exploration Program [RLEP]. The Committee believes that the missions associated with RLEP are essential to the success of the anticipated manned missions to the Moon. In 2005, NASA made the decision calling for the development of a lunar robotic lander mission and the Committee believes this mission is of critical importance for the exploration vision. For this purpose, $40,000,000 is provided from within funds provided to the RLEP program to initiate work on this mission.

"The Committee is concerned with the steady decline in the aeronautics research and technology request. Even more alarming, NASA's budget projections indicate that this trend will continue. The Committee is committed to the research NASA conducts in aeronautics, and to the benefits, both in terms of safety and economics, that will be made available to the public through NASA-led research. Accordingly, the Committee provides an additional $35,000,000 beyond the amount requested for aeronautics programs at NASA.

"NASA has a long history of supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematical education. This support reaches all levels of education from K-12 to graduate level. For NASA to embark on its vision for exploration there must exist a general workforce that is technically skilled as well as a wide range of scientists and engineers for NASA to draw upon. This will require exciting young minds in the areas of science, and then sustaining this excitement through college and beyond. To help accomplish this task, NASA has dedicated funds toward many education activities. The Committee supports the budget request for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant). The Committee also directs, to the extent possible, that education funds within this account address the education needs of women, minorities, and other historically underrepresented groups."

Other report language included the committee's recommendation on "Classroom of the Future," the Centennial Challenges Program, the National Remote Sensing and Law Center, and a lengthy list of congressionally-directed spending and accounting guidelines for these projects.

EXPLORATION CAPABILITIES:

The Administration requested a decrease of 5.2% or $343.0 million to $6,234.9 million from the current budget of $6,577.9 million.

The House-passed bill would cut funding by 5.8% or $384.0 million to $6,193.5 million.

The Senate Appropriations Committee bill would cut funding, as requested, by 5.2% or $343.0 million to $6,234.9 million.

"The Shuttle remains the cornerstone of our Nation's heavy launch capability and is critical to the future of the ISS and scientific research. The future of the ISS, and other U.S. manned space flight missions for the rest of the decade are contingent upon having a working Shuttle fleet that is safe and reliable throughout the remaining years of the shuttle program.

"The Committee recommends $4,056,700,000 for the Shuttle. This is the same as the budget request. The funds provided are to be dedicated solely to Shuttle funding needs.

"The Committee expects consultation by NASA on all proposed changes to investments in the Shuttle program. If NASA intends to make any alterations to funding for the Shuttle, the Committee expects NASA to follow the guidelines provided in section 505 of this act.

"The Committee has provided the full requested amount of $1,811,300,000 for the International Space Station [ISS]. The ISS is a research and technology test bed in low Earth orbit in which United States and International astronauts conduct scientific and technological investigations in a space environment. The ISS supports scientific research for human space exploration, as well as other research that can only be conducted in space but require the presence of humans in space."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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