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Budget Challenges Create Difficult Choices in NASA's Space Science Program, Calvert Says

Press Release From: House Science Committee Republicans
Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2007

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WASHINGTON – Today in a hearing on the fiscal year 2008 budget request, the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics was told by a panel of expert witnesses that there is currently insufficient funding to support the many space science missions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) supported a funding increase at NASA to $18.7 Billion, the authorized amount for FY2008, saying, “Everyone in this room understands that severe budget challenges are confronting NASA in its science missions, as well as its manned spaceflight and aeronautics research programs, forcing the agency to remove future budget growth from the science mission directorate in order to address more pressing needs.”

Calvert continued, “I don’t fault NASA for making the tough choices it did, but it shouldn’t be that way. I have stated before, and I’ll say it again, that the Administration must provide NASA with realistic budget requests to match resources with program content.”

Despite the fact that funding for NASA science missions is at an historically high 32 percent of the agency’s overall budget, the pace of growth has declined. This decline has been attributed factors including: unpredictably high mission costs; mission delays from an overly ambitious number of missions, given the available resources; and cost increases associated with management oversight and risk reduction.

Congress has repeatedly called for a more balanced program of science, exploration, and aeronautics at NASA. Speaking to that end, Dr. S. Alan Stern, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said, “I am committed to implementing this direction and bringing to NASA and the Congress the best possible slate of programs and program success within the significant resources already available… I am an enthusiastic advocate of human exploration and believe that a strong science program associated with this exploration is important to maximizing the benefits to the Nation of such human exploration.”

Also testifying at today’s hearing was: Dr. Lennard Fisk, Thomas M. Donahue Distinguished University Professor of Space Science at the University of Michigan, and Chair of the Space Studies Board at the National Research Council; Dr. Garth Illingworth, Professor at the University of California Observatories/ Lick Observatory at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Chair of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee; Dr. Daniel Baker, Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Dr. Joseph Burns, Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering and Professor of Astronomy, and Vice Provost of Physical Sciences and Engineering at Cornell University.

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