NASA Lacks Resources Needed to Sustain Vigorous Science Program

Press Release From: National Academy of Sciences
Posted: Thursday, May 4, 2006


Full Report: An Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs

WASHINGTON --- NASA does not have the resources necessary to maintain a vigorous science program, complete the International Space Station, and return humans to the moon, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies' National Research Council.

"There is a mismatch between what NASA has been assigned to do and the resources with which it has been provided," said Lennard A. Fisk, chair of the committee that wrote the report and Thomas M. Donahue Collegiate Professor of Space Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "We are particularly concerned that the shortfall in funding for science has fallen disproportionately on small missions and on funding for basic research and technology. These actions run the risk of disrupting the pipeline of human capital and technology that is essential for the future success of the space program."

The committee reviewed NASA's plan for research programs for the next five years in space science, which includes astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary science, and astrobiology; earth science; and microgravity life and physical sciences. The committee found that the program proposed for space and earth sciences is neither robust nor sustainable, and that it is not properly balanced to support a healthy mix of small, moderate-sized, and large missions.

The report recommends that NASA restore small missions, research and analysis programs, and technology investment in the future missions. The agency also should preserve the ground-based and flight research required to support long-duration human space flight. For space and earth sciences, the committee concluded that the short-term resource allocation problem is modest, probably slightly more than 1 percent of the total NASA budget. To revive the microgravity life and physical sciences, the short-term allocation of resources needed is also modest -- less than 1 percent of the total NASA budget.

The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows.

Copies of An Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at Reporters may obtain a pre-publication copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

Full Report: An Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Space Studies Board

Committee on an Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs

Lennard A. Fisk1 (chair)
Thomas M. Donahue Collegiate Professor of Space Science
Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor

George A. Paulikas (vice chair)
Executive Vice President
Aerospace Corp. (retired)
El Segundo, Calif.

Spiro K. Antiochos
Head, Solar Theory Section
Space Science Division
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington, D.C.

Daniel N. Baker
Professor and Director
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
University of Colorado

Reta F. Beebe
Professor, Department of Astronomy
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces

Roger D. Blandford1
Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology
Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.

Radford Byerly Jr.
Research Scientist
Center for Science and Technology Policy Research
University of Colorado

Judith A. Curry
Professor and Chair
School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta

Jack D. Farmer
Professor, Department of Geological Sciences
Arizona State University

Jacqueline N. Hewitt
Professor of Physics and Director
Kavli Center for Astrophysics & Space Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge

Donald E. Ingber
Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology
Departments of Pathology and Surgery
Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston

Bruce M. Jakosky
Professor of Geology and Associate Director for Science
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
University of Colorado Boulder

Klaus Keil
Interim Dean, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Debra S. Knopman
Vice President and Director
Infrastructure, Safety and Environment Division
RAND Corp.
Arlington, Va.

Calvin W. Lowe
Bowie State University
Bowie, Md.

Berrien Moore III
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
University of New Hampshire

Frank E. Muller-Karger
Professor of Biological Oceanography, and
Director, Institute for Marine Remote Sensing
College of Marine Science
University of South Florida
St. Petersburg

Suzanne Oparil2
Director, Vascular Biology and Hypertension Program., and
Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Biophysics
University of Alabama

Ronald F. Probstein1,3
Ford Professor of Engineering, Emeritus
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dennis W. Readey
Herman F. Coors Distinguished Professor of Ceramic Engineering
Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Department
Colorado School of Mines Golden

Harvey D. Tananbaum1
Chandra X-ray Center
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

J. Craig Wheeler
Professor of Astronomy
Department of Astronomy
University of Texas

A. Thomas Young3
Executive Vice President
Lockheed Martin (retired)
Onancock, Va.


Joseph K. Alexander
Study Director

1 Member, National Academy of Sciences
2 Member, Institute of Medicine
3 Member, National Academy of Engineering

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