FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Senate FY 2010 NASA Funding Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 85 - July 1, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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Taking a different approach to the funding of the human space flight program than did the House, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its report, 111-34, accompanying its FY 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill. The House has passed its version of this legislation. The House bill deferred a requested increase in the Exploration budget pending the results of the Augustine committee’s review, an approach that Senate appropriators did not take.

This bill provides funding for a number of federal departments and agencies, including NASA. The Senate report outlining budget and policy deliberations will be available here.

Selections from the 176-page Senate report pertinent to NASA follow:

Total NASA:

The FY 2009 appropriation was $17.782 billion.
The Administration's request was $18.686 billion, an increase of 5.1 percent or $903.6 million.
The House appropriations bill recommended $18.203 billion, an increase of 2.4 percent or $420.9 million.
The Senate appropriations bill recommends $18.686 billion, the Administration’s request.

Science:

The FY 2009 appropriation was $4,503.0 million.
The Administration's request was $4,477.2 million, a decline of 0.6 percent or $25.8 million. The House Appropriations Committee recommended $4,496.1 million, a decline of 0.2 percent or $6.9 million.
The Senate appropriations bill recommends $4,517.0 million, an increase of 0.3 percent or $14.0 million.

There are four programs within the Science Directorate:

Earth Science:
FY 2009 appropriation: $1,704.6 million
FY 2010 request: $1,405.0 million
House Appropriations bill recommendation: $1,443.0 million
Senate Appropriations bill recommendation: $1,405.0 million

Planetary Science:
FY 2009 appropriation: $1,325.6 million
FY 2010 request: $1,346.2 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $1,348.3 million
Senate Appropriations bill recommendation: $ 1,354.8 million

Astrophysics:
FY 2009 appropriation: $1,281.2 million
FY 2010 request: $1,120.9 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $1,170.9 million
Senate Appropriations bill recommendation: $1,169.8 million

Heliophysics:
FY 2009 appropriation: $591.6 million
FY 2010 request: $605.0 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $605.0 million
Senate Appropriations bill recommendation: $646.6 million

The Senate committee report has a two-page table with specific program funding recommendations. It also stated:

“Earth Science Decadal Survey Missions.--The Committee supports the ongoing development of the Tier I missions, and provides the full budget requests for the Soil Moisture Active and Passive [SMAP] and the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite [ICESat II] missions. The Committee is disappointed that the request does not include funding for the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory [CLARREO] or the Deformation, Ecosystem Structure, and Dynamics of the Ice [DESDnyl] missions, which are also part of the Tier 1 recommendations. The National Academies recommended flying a suite of these four missions concurrently to gather critical information about the Earth and its climate. The Committee strongly encourages NASA to realign priorities in future budget requests to accelerate these missions to more closely match the Academies' recommended schedule, while also supporting development of Tier 2 and Tier 3 missions, as well as venture class missions. The Committee provides the full budget request of $135,100,000 for decadal-related projects and missions.

“ICESat II Mission.--The Committee is aware that the Science Definition Team [SDT] for the ICESat II mission determined that the use of a photon-counting approach to provide cross-track measurement capabilities is the preferred method of meeting the objectives of the Earth Science Decadal Survey for this mission. The Committee supports this approach to ensure the highest level of accuracy in measuring ice melt; however, the SDT did not assess its technical readiness level. The Committee directs NASA to complete a technical readiness level evaluation, and to report on options to implementing this preferred approach without significantly increasing the cost, or substantially delaying the launch, of the mission.

“Heliophysics- Within funds provided to advance scientific knowledge of the Sun's impact on the Earth, the Committee provides the full budget requirement of $118,600,000 for the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, as well as $50,000,000 for the Solar Probe Mission. The Committee notes that the Solar Probe mission is the highest priority recommendation of the National Academies' heliophysics decadal report, and therefore strongly urges the Agency to work to achieve a launch no later than 2015.

“Within funds provided for sounding rockets operations, $5,000,000 is provided to continue advanced technology development of small satellites and unmanned aerial systems [UAS] that have the potential of lowering the costs of space and Earth science missions.

“The Committee notes that suborbital science missions provide important hands-on experience for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] undergraduate and graduate students, and directs NASA to increase their participation of these missions.

“Planetary Science- Within funds provided to advance scientific knowledge of our solar system, the Committee provides the full budget requirement of $416,108,000 for the Mars rovers and related science.

“International Lunar Network- The Committee is concerned that NASA has chosen to take a science mission, the international lunar network, and make its funding contingent on a report that is focused on human space flight. The scientific merits of a mission using a lander rather than an orbiting vehicle were highlighted by the National Research Council in its report, `The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon'. Since the mission selection by NASA, there has been insufficient resources and inconsistent support for this mission. In accordance with the planned funding profile provided to the Committee for this mission, the Committee directs $21,000,000 to continue the development for this mission.

“Astrophysics- Within funds provided to advance scientific knowledge of the origins of the universe, the Committee provides the full budget requirements of $112,600,000 for the Hubble Space Telescope and $441,400,000 for the James Webb Space Telescope. The Committee also provides the full budget request of $6,400,000 for the Joint Dark Energy Mission [JDEM].

“Servicing Opportunities for Science Missions.--The Committee provides $50,000,000 to continue efforts to use the next generation of human space flight architecture to service existing and future on-orbit observatory-class scientific spacecraft as provided for in the statement of managers accompanying division B of Public Law 111-8 [FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act]. The Committee directs that this shall be a joint project of the science and exploration mission directorates, with supervision provided by the Associate Administrator and the Chief Engineer, and shall include technology demonstrations for both robotic and human servicing capabilities.”

Exploration:

FY 2009 appropriation: $3,505.5 million.
FY 2010 request: $3,963.1 million, an increase of 13.1 percent or $457.6 million.
The House appropriations bill recommended $3,293.2 million, a decline of 6.1 percent or $212.3 million.
The Senate appropriations bill recommends $3,940.4 million, an increase of 12.4 percent or $434.9 million.

This program provides funding for human and robotic exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

The Senate committee report stated:

“Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans- The Committee directs that NASA shall not use the operating plan or reprogramming process as the method of implementing the recommendations of the [Augustine committee] review. The opportunity for directing a well constructed and thoughtful approach to manned space flight should be as a budget amendment to the 2010 budget request that is received in a manner that is timely for consideration by the Committee, or as part of the 2011 budget request.

“Ares I and Orion- The Committee provides the full budget request of $1,415,400,000 for Ares I, the new Crew Launch Vehicle, and $1,383,500,000 for Orion, the Crew Exploration Vehicle.

“Ares V- The Committee believes that the Ares V cargo launch vehicle will be a critical national asset for carrying exploration and scientific payloads beyond low Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond. To facilitate the earliest possible start of the development of the Ares V, the Committee recommends a funding level of $100,000,000.

“International Space Station as a National Laboratory.--As construction of the International Space Station nears completion, the Committee reminds NASA that section 507 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 designated the International Space Station [ISS] as a National Laboratory for the purposes of using the unique environment of space for science. The Committee has long advocated that NASA should utilize the ISS to its full potential by enabling research of the life and physical sciences in microgravity and partial gravity environments to improve life on Earth. The Committee therefore provides the full budget request of $21,800,000 for ISS microgravity research. NASA shall report to the Committee no later than 90 days after enactment of this act with a proposed expenditure plan for this funding. The plan shall include options and recommendations to ensure access of scientific experiments to a microgravity environment after the Space Shuttle's retirement via both the next generation vehicle architecture as well as possible commercial launch options.”

Space Operations:

FY 2009 appropriation: $5,764.7 million.
FY 2010 request: $6,175.6 million, an increase of 7.1 percent or $410.9 million.
The House appropriations bill recommended $6,097.3 million, an increase of 5.8 percent or $332.6 million.
The Senate appropriations bill recommends $6,161.6 million, an increase of 6.9 percent or $396.9 million.

This appropriation provides funding for the International Space Station and Space Shuttle.

The Senate committee report stated:

“Completion of Current Space Shuttle Manifest- The Committee supports the administration's commitment to completing all the remaining Shuttle missions on the current manifest by the end of fiscal year 2010. In the event that additional time is necessary to complete the manifest, the Committee directs the administration to seek adequate funding for the remaining Shuttle flights in its fiscal year 2011 budget request. The Committee further directs that any funding necessary in 2011 to complete the manifest shall not come from, or jeopardize in any way, other ongoing NASA activities.

“ISS Crew Cargo Services.--Within the funds provided for ISS Crew Cargo Services, $40,000,000 shall be for a competitive grant program for launch infrastructure construction and upgrades at commercial spaceports, including spaceports located at NASA facilities.

“Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System [TDRSS].--The Committee provides the full budget request of $26,000,000 to continue replenishment of the TDRS system. NASA should report no later than March 15, 2010, on options for accommodating increased mission load to the system. The report should include an examination of the feasibility of using off-the-shelf technologies.”

Education:

FY 2009 appropriation: $169.2 million.
FY 2010 request: $126.1 million, a cut of 25.5 percent or $43.1 million.
The House appropriations bill recommended $175.0 million, an increase of 3.4 percent or $5.8 million.
The Senate appropriations bill recommends $140.1 million, a cut of 17.2 percent or $29.1 million.

The Senate committee report stated:

“Education.--In addition to funds provided in within the Education account, each mission directorate utilizes funding for education activities. However, NASA has been unable to provide an adequate, full accounting of those activities Agency-wide, therefore it is impossible for the Committee to know the extent and value of the Agency's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] education efforts. The Committee therefore directs NASA to include in its annual budget justifications the amount within each mission directorate that will be expended for education activities and the specific purposes for which those funds will be expended.

“Space Grant Program.--The Committee provides the full budget request of $28,400,000 for the Space Grant program, and encourages NASA to work to achieve greater participation of underserved students.

“Classroom of the Future- The Committee has provided the full budget request of $1,000,000 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 $7,000,000 for a competitive grant program as authorized by section 616 of Public Law 109-155 [National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005].

“Educational Activities at NASA Centers- The Committee provides $7,000,000 for the development of educational activities at NASA's centers and direct NASA to distribute this amount in equal $750,000 increments to each center's official visitor center for the development of educational activities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including exhibits.

“Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students [EarthKAM] program.--The Committee recognizes the importance of the EarthKAM program, which allows middle school students to program a digital camera on board the International Space Station to photograph a variety of geographical targets for study in the classroom. Educators use the images for projects involving Earth science, geography, physics, and social science. Nearly 100,000 middle school students from nearly 1,500 schools have used EarthKAM to investigate every corner of the globe. No other NASA program gives students such direct control of an instrument flying on a spacecraft orbiting Earth, and as a result, students assume an unparalleled personal ownership in the study and analysis of the Earth. The Committee is concerned that NASA's financial support for this program has been significantly reduced, and directs NASA to increase support for this program.

“Informal Education.--A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, Learning Science in Informal Settings, found evidence that nonschool science programs involving exhibits, media projects, emerging learning technologies, and other informal education programs increases students' interest in STEM education. The Committee strongly supports informal science education at NASA, and encourages NASA to increase support for these activities.”

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