Senate Bill Would Increase NASA's Budget by 7.2%

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Publication date: 
11 July 2007
Number: 
73

A bill has been sent to the Senate that would increase the NASA budget by 7.2 percent in FY 2008. This legislation, S. 1745 provides funding for NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is the chair of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee that wrote this bill; Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is the Ranking Member. The House has not released its version of this bill.

The following are selections from Senate Report 110-124 accompanying the bill. The full text of the bill and the report can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app08.html

OVERALL NASA:

The FY 2007 budget (including supplemental funding) for NASA is $16,284.3 million.
The Bush Administration requested $17,309.4 million, a 6.3 percent or $1,025.1 million increase.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $17,459.6 million, an increase of 7.2 percent or $1,175.3 million.

The Senate Committee report states:

"NASA's 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 exploration vision. The Committee believes that NASA must work diligently to balance existing programs and priorities with its plans for the future. Counterbalancing future priorities against current programs places existing research and expertise in jeopardy and risks squandering significant Federal investments that may be essential to the exploration 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 FY 2007 budget for Science, Aeronautics and Exploration is $10,086.5 million.
The Bush Administration requested $10,483.1 million, a 3.9 percent or $396.6 million increase.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $10,633.0 million, an increase of 5.4 percent or $546.5 million. Of this amount, the committee earmarked $70.0 million for specific projects.

This committee report provides six pages of program line item budgets in a table form for this account. The report explains, "Major mission and program funding is listed within the tables and, if necessary, supplemented with explanatory report language." This FYI includes selections of report language of particular interest. Readers who wish to review specific funding levels can do so by consulting the committee report at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp110:FLD010:@1(sr124) Scroll down to the NASA section of the committee report under Title III.

Science:

The FY 2007 budget for Science is $5,466.8 million.
The Bush Administration requested $5,516.1 million, a 0.9 percent or $49.3 million increase.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $5,655.1 million, an increase of 3.4 percent or $188.3 million.

This science funding would be distributed as follows:

Planetary Science funding would decline 3.2 percent or $44.8 million to $1,366.4 million.

Heliophysics funding would increase 5.9 percent or $60.4 million to $1,088.5 million.

Astrophysics funding would increase 0.1 percent or $1.9 million to $1,564.9 million.

Earth Science funding would increase 11.7 percent or $170.8 million to $1,635.3 million.

The Senate Committee report includes the following language:

"Earth Science - 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.

"NASA earth science missions are critical to our ability to monitor and provide warnings about climate, weather, and other hazards. To that end, the Committee recommends an additional $25,000,000 to begin studies to implement the National Research Council's report recent 'Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond.' This decadal report recommends 15 priority NASA earth science missions.

"The Committee continues to expect NASA's Earth science portfolio 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.

"Earth Science Applications Program - 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 2008. 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.

"Earth Observing System Data and Information System - 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.

"Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV] in Support of Earth Science Objectives. - The Committee initiated a program in fiscal year 2006 utilizing the unique location and assets of the Wallops Flight Facility to begin a program where UAVs would be utilized to achieve key objectives emerging out of the Earth Science Decadal Survey. The Committee strongly encourages NASA to continue this effort in fiscal year 2008.

"James Webb Space Telescope - The Committee has provided the full budget request of $545,400,000 for the James Webb Telescope and directs NASA to maintain the current launch schedule.

"Living With a Star - The Committee has included an additional $20,000,000 for the Living With A Star Program for the Solar Probe mission.

"Joint Dark Energy Mission - 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 provides the budget request of $2,300,000 for JDEM, and strongly supports development of the JDEM through full and open competition with project management residing at the appropriate NASA center.

"Landsat Data Continuity Mission [LDCM] - The Committee is concerned that the LDCM mission does not include a thermal infrared sensor to provide important data for surface and ground water information. NASA shall report to the Committee no later than 60 days after the enactment of this act with a plan to provide continuity of this data.

"Constellation Systems - The Committee remains supportive of the vision for exploration and provides $950,800,000 for the Crew Exploration Vehicle [CEV] and $1,224,800,000 for the [CLV].

"National Space Biomedical Research Institute - The Committee reiterates its strong support for the mission and work of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute [NSBRI], which is leading the national effort to carry out research required to assure safe human exploration in space. The fundamental and applied biomedical research performed by the NSBRI research partners will be particularly important for ensuring a safe and healthy environment while learning how to live and work on the moon in preparation for a successful manned mission to Mars. The Committee encourages the agency to extend its current Cooperative Agreement for an additional 5-year term. The Committee further directs NASA to include specific funding recommendations for this program in its annual budget justifications.

"Lunar Precursor Robotic Program - The Committee provides $278,200,000 for the Lunar Precursor Robotic Program [LPRP]. The Committee believes that the program, management offices, and missions associated with LPRP are essential to the success of the anticipated manned missions to the Moon. Within these funds, $209,500,000 shall be for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $20,000,000 shall be for the LPRP management office.

"In 2005, NASA selected a team for the development of a lunar lander spacecraft consistent with the goals set forth in the Administration's Renewed Spirit of Discovery and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-155) which called for a robust lunar robotic program, including robotic lunar landers. The National Research Council's report 'The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon' further supports robotic precursor missions to the Moon's surface and the valuable scientific resource such missions would provide for returning man to the Moon. The Committee agrees that the NASA selected mission is of critical importance for the exploration vision. For this purpose, $48,700,000 is provided from within funds provided to the LPRP program for the lunar lander mission.

"The management office associated with LPRP shall be directly involved in the planning and oversight of future lunar robotic missions, integrating lunar data from NASA and other international missions, oversee technology development, support the Lunar Architecture Team, and lead NASA's public outreach and education activities for understanding the lunar environment.

"Astronomy and Astrophysics - 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 survey should be given priority for funding over missions that are ranked lower. The Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, and SOFIA missions are clearly higher priorities in the Decadal Survey than the Navigator program for interferometry technology and exoplanet-finding research. Due to the increased costs of these higher priority missions and constraints to the science budget, NASA cannot afford to carry out the objectives for the Navigator program as originally proposed several years ago. The Committee strongly urges NASA to reformulate the Navigator program toward a smaller, medium-class satellite development program to search for Earth-like planets around nearby stars while still maintaining the majority of the Decadal Survey priorities for exoplanet research."

"Aeronautics - 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."

"National Technology Transfer Center - Within the funds provided for Innovative Partnership Programs, the Committee provides the full budget request of $2,500,000 for the continued operations of the NASA National Technology Transfer Center.

"Education - NASA has a long history of supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematical [STEM] 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 directs, to the extent possible, that education funds within this account address the education needs of women, minorities, and other historically underrepresented groups.

"Classrooms of the Future - The Committee has provided the full budget request for the Classroom of the Future, which focuses on educational research, curriculum design, teacher development and educational outreach in the STEM disciplines.

"Museums, Science Centers, and Planetariums - The Committee recommends $10,000,000 for a competitive grant program as authorized by section 616 of Public Law 109-155."

EXPLORATION CAPABILITIES:

The FY 2007 budget for Exploration Capabilities (including supplemental funding) is $6,165.6 million.
The Bush Administration requested $6,791.7 million, a 10.2 percent or $626.1 million increase.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $6,792.0 million, an increase of 10.2 percent or $626.4 million.

This account provides funding for the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle and related space and flight support operations.

The Senate Committee report states:

"Space Shuttle - 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 $4,007,760,000 for the Shuttle. Funds provided are to be dedicated solely to Shuttle funding needs."

"International Space Station - The Committee has provided the full requested amount of $2,238,610,000 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 requires the presence of humans in space."