FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Senate FY 2011 NASA Appropriations Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 82 - July 27, 2010  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The Senate Appropriations Committee provided the full $19 billion requested for NASA for FY 2011, and aligned its funding bill with the major components of the NASA reauthorization bill written by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. If enacted, the bill would provide the necessary funding to implement the Obama Administration’s new space exploration policy.

Senate Committee Report 111-229 accompanies S.3636, and has 18 pages of funding and policy recommendations related to NASA. At the outset of the NASA section, the report refers to the Augustine Committee’s finding “that the [previous] plans for future human spaceflight were untenable.” The committee explains its approach:

“From the outset, this Committee has sought a human spaceflight program that the President, the Congress, and the American people can support. The Committee believes that the restructured program called for in this act should be sustainable from one administration to the next. The United States cannot reinvent its space program every 4 years.”

The report then outlines the compromise position the committee adopted:

“The Committee believes this bill represents a solid compromise for human spaceflight that reaches beyond low Earth orbit with affordable vehicles; makes key investments in the burgeoning commercial launch industry that is already poised to bring cargo to the ISS [International Space Station]; before the Shuttle is retired in 2011, authorizes one additional Shuttle flight, if determined to be safe, to preposition supplies at the ISS; and revitalizes NASA technology programs. The Committee invests in a new heavy lift rocket to be built by 2017, along with the Orion capsule to carry astronauts, so NASA can again send humans on new journeys of discovery.”

NASA:

FY 2010 appropriation: $18,724.3 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $19,000.0 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $19,000.0 million, an increase of $275.7 million or 1.5 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $19,000.0 million, an increase of $275.7 million or 1.5 percent above this year.

Within this budget are the following selected programs:

Science:

FY 2010 appropriation: $4,469.0 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $5,005.6 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $4,704.5 million, an increase of $235.5 million or 5.3 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $5,005.6 million, an increase of $536.6 million or 12.0 percent above this year.

PDF page 117 of the Commerce, Justice, Science committee report has a table of various program funding levels in Earth Science, Planetary Science, Astrophysics and Heliophysics. The report also has explanatory language for the following programs: Earth Science Decadal Survey Missions, IceBridge, Carbon Monitoring, SERVIR, Explorer Program, Solar Sentinels, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, International Lunar Network, and Astrophysics (including JDEM.)

Aeronautics and Space Research and Technology:

FY 2010 appropriation: $501.0 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $1,151.8 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $887.1 million, an increase of $386.1 million or 77.1 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $904.6 million, an increase of $403.6 million or 80.6 percent above this year.

See PDF page 120 of the report for a funding table and explanatory language for the Green Aviation Project, Aviation Safety, and the NASA Unmanned Aircraft Systems University Affiliated Research Center.

Exploration:

FY 2010 appropriation: $3,746.3 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $4,263.4 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $3,563.5 million, a decrease of $182.8 million or 4.9 percent below this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $3,912.0 million, an increase of $165.7 million or 4.4 percent above this year.

The Senate committee report stated:

“The Exploration account funds the capabilities required to develop, demonstrate, and deploy the transportation, life support, and surface systems that will enable sustained human presence throughout the solar system, including at the Space Station, in low Earth orbit and beyond low Earth orbit.

“The request proposed a restructuring of this account to emphasize technology development and commercial space transportation. The Committee shares the administration’s enthusiasm for new acquisition models intended to keep the cost of space access low and for investments in new technologies that can radically reduce the cost of human transportation to and in space.

“The Committee also believes that the Nation deserves a robust human space flight program. The Space Shuttle will retire in fiscal year 2011. The United States needs to start now building a lower cost, more sustainable space transportation system that can take humans beyond low Earth orbit.”

See PDF page 122 for a funding table and important explanatory language regarding the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle, Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, Commercial Crew, Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Cargo, International Space Station as a National Laboratory, Technology Demonstration, and the Robotic Precursor Program.

Space Operations:

FY 2010 appropriation: $6,146.8 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $4,887.7 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $4,460.5 million, a decrease of $1,686.3 million or 27.4 percent below this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $5,533.4 million, a decrease of $613.4 million or 10.0 percent below this year.

The report states:

“The Committee provides $620,600,000 for an additional shuttle logistics flight to the International Space Station. This funding shall only be available provided that the Administrator certifies to the Committee that the flight will be at least as safe as the remaining flights on the shuttle manifest dated February 28, 2010, that the intended mission is in the national interest, and that it is worth the risks to be incurred. In making this certification, the Administrator shall rely on any assessments of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center evaluating crew safety and alternative means of return, along with the advice of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel.”

The report provides a funding table and explanatory language on the Additional Shuttle Flight, International Space Station, 21st Century Launch Complex, Space Operations (including the National Radio Astronomy Observatory), and Authority to Transfer starting on PDF page 125.

Education:

FY 2010 appropriation: $182.5 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $145.8 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $205.2 million, an increase of $22.7 million or 12.5 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $145.8 million, a decrease of $36.7 million or 20.1 percent below this year.

The Senate Committee report stated:

“In addition to funds provided 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.”

See PDF page 127 for explanatory language on the Space Grant Program; Classroom of the Future; Museums, Science Centers and Planetariums; Educational Activities at NASA Centers; and Informal Education.

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