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Charter, NASA FY 2002 Posture Hearing, House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Committee on Science
Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics
U.S. House of Representatives
NASA Posture
Wednesday, May 2, 2001
10:00 am to 12:00 noon
2318 Rayburn House Office Building

1. Purpose

On Wednesday, May 2 at 10:00 am, House Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics will hold a hearing regarding NASA's FY2002 budget request. The Subcommittee will receive testimony from the Honorable Daniel Goldin, Administrator of NASA. He has been asked to address the following questions in his prepared statement:

  1. What scientific priorities are reflected in the FY2002 budget request?
  2. What high-priority technologies will be developed if the FY2002 budget request is enacted?
  3. What options do you envision for the future of the International Space Station? What is your timeline for presenting these options to Congress?

 

2. NASA Budget & Structure

The FY2002 budget request for NASA totals $14.511 billion, roughly a 2% increase over the FY2001 appropriation. In general, it continues a trend of slight increases in NASA's budget that began in 1999, after a half decade of declining funding.

NASA's budget has traditionally been divided into three significant appropriations lines: 1) Human Spaceflight (International Space Station and Space Shuttle); 2) Science, Aeronautics, and Technology (space science, earth science, biological and physical research, aerospace technology, mission communications, space operations and academic programs); and 3) Mission Support (civil service personnel and facilities). Funding for NASA's Inspector General is appropriated separately.

The FY2002 budget condenses NASA's three appropriations lines into two, merging the overhead costs traditionally contained within Mission Support into the program lines contained within Human Spaceflight and Science, Aeronautics, and Technology. NASA hopes that the new structure will more accurately reflect the costs of key programs. However, NASA's Integrated Financial Management Plan, which is critical to enable the agency to conduct full-cost accounting, has not been implemented. Consequently, NASA's efforts to attribute overhead costs to programs may not be entirely accurate.

It should also be noted that NASA took different approaches in rolling overhead costs into the Human Spaceflight and Science, Aeronautics, and Technology appropriations accounts. In Human Spaceflight, NASA simply transferred the Safety, Mission Assurance, & Engineering Activity wholesale from Mission Support to Human Spaceflight and added personnel costs to the Investments & Support Activity. NASA did not parcel out overhead costs to the International Space Station or Space Shuttle programs. However, in Science, Aeronautics, and Technology, NASA rolled those overhead costs from Mission Support directly into the program lines: space science, earth science, etc. Thus, in addition to the relatively low accuracy with which NASA is attempting to represent a program's full cost, it is also employing different standards for different appropriations accounts. Moreover, within Science, Aeronautics, and Technology, NASA's budget does not roll any overhead expenses from Mission Support into Academic Programs under the new budget structure, thus introducing a third set of standards for full cost accounting.

The FY2002 budget is summarized below in both the old and new accounting structures.

Old Structure (in millions)

 

FY01

FY02

FY03

FY04

FY05

FY06

             

Human Spaceflight

5450.9

5584.5

5250.0

4991.5

4841.6

4857.7

International Space Station

2112.9

2087.4

1817.5

1509.1

1394.3

1389.0

Space Shuttle

3118.8

3283.8

3218.9

3253.3

3213.5

3228.0

Payload and ELV Support

90

91.3

92.5

100.0

104.7

111.6

Investment & Support

129.2

122.0

121.1

129.1

129.1

129.1

             

Science, Aeroanutics, and Technology

6177.1

6162.7

6817.6

7385.9

7747.9

8051.4

Space Science

2321.0

2453.0

2801.5

3205.2

3526.5

3623.9

Biological and Physical Research

312.9

291.3

303.1

322.2

325.0

335.6

Earth Science

1484.6

1278.0

1346.1

1321.0

1311.0

1307.6

Aerospace Technology

1404.1

1504.5

1852.4

2107.3

2144.9

2343.8

Space Operations

521.8

482.2

370.8

286.5

296.8

296.8

Academic Programs

132.7

153.7

143.7

143.7

143.7

143.7

             

Mission Support

2602.3

2740.5

2893.2

2980.5

3043.4

3136.9

Safety, Mission Assurance and Engineering

47.4

47.8

47.8

48.0

48.0

48.0

Research & Program Management

2275.4

2460.5

2566.4

2661.5

2764.4

2873.9

Construction of Facilities

279.5

232.2

279.0

271.0

231.0

215.0

             

Inspector General

22.9

23.7

24.6

25.5

26.5

27.4

TOTAL

14253.2

14511.4

14985.4

15383.4

15659.4

16073.4

 

 

New Structure (in millions)

 

FY01

FY02

FY03

FY04

FY05

FY06

             

Human Spaceflight

7163.4

7296.0

6881.0

6545.0

6439.0

6494.0

International Space Station

2112.9

2087.4

1817.5

1509.1

1394.3

1389.0

Space Shuttle

3118.8

3283.8

3218.9

3253.3

3213.5

3228.0

Payload & ELV Support

90

91.3

92.5

100.0

104.7

111.6

Investments & Support

1272.5

1303.5

1333.5

1348.1

1381.7

1420.6

Space Operations

521.8

482.2

370.8

286.5

296.8

296.8

Safety, Mission Assurance, & Engineering

47.4

47.8

47.8

48.0

48.0

48.0

             

Science, Aeronautics, & Technology

7066.9

7191.7

8079.8

8812.9

9193.9

9552.0

Space Science

2624.7

2786.4

3144.2

3560.5

3897.5

4008.1

Biological & Physical Research

378.8

360.9

380.7

402.6

405.6

419.4

Earth Science

1716.2

1515.0

1587.4

1571.0

1572.9

1578.7

Aerospace Technology

2214.5

2375.7

2823.8

3135.1

3174.2

3402.1

Academic Programs

132.7

153.7

143.7

143.7

143.7

143.7

             

Inspector General

22.9

23.7

24.6

25.5

26.5

27.4

             

TOTAL

14253.2

14511.4

14985.4

15383.4

15659.4

16073.4

 

3. Background

Human Spaceflight

For FY2002, the President requested $132.6 million more for Human Spaceflight than it received in FY2001. Most of the additional funding is for Space Shuttle, although the International Space Station received more funding than anticipated in the FY2001 budget request to address significant cost growth in the program. Most of the increase in Space Shuttle funding is for Shuttle safety improvements, with total safety funding rising $149.7 million over the FY01 level. The specific budget line formerly known as "Safety and Performance Upgrades" has been eliminated, with safety upgrades folded into the "Shuttle Operations" budget line. These upgrades include new cockpits, improved engines, and development of an electric auxiliary power unit. Some concern has been expressed that NASA has not yet prioritized upgrades through a cost-benefit analysis, but NASA is working through this process. There is some indication that the increased funding for safety upgrades may be redirected into ground-based shuttle infrastructure if doing so proves to be a higher safety priority than upgrading the vehicle itself.

According to the budget request, sufficient funding has been provided to enable the Shuttle to conduct 6 flights per year, slightly fewer than the number conducted over the last 12 months. However, the budget request indicates that the 6 flight/year figure is not a ceiling, but was developed for purposes of planning the budget. NASA presumably has the discretion about launching the shuttle at a higher or lower launch rate.

Overall, the FY2002 budget request increased the runout for development of the space station by $1 billion over the FY2001 budget. However, the program has indicated it needs $4 billion in order to achieve the baseline program. As a result, the President's budget directs NASA to develop a "core" U.S. space station, which is loosely defined as that which is necessary to "accept major international hardware elements." The U.S. core may not include habitation capabilities for more than three crew, a dedicated U.S.-built crew return vehicle, an independent propulsion capability, as many solar arrays, or research capability nearly as comprehensive as that originally planned. Indeed, the $1 billion in additional resources made available for vehicle development had already been budgeted within Science, Aeronautics, and Technology for development of the station-related crew-return vehicle. The budget, however, does not identify the final configuration for the International Space Station as NASA is still developing recommendations for rebaselining the space station to address cost growth and remain within the President's budget.

Science, Aeronautics, and Technology

The funding requested for Science, Aeronautics, and Technology (SAT) in FY02 is $124.8 million above that available in FY01. SAT funding is on a path to increase by some 35% between FY01 and FY06. This increase is principally committed to Space Science, which includes programs like the Hubble Space Telescope and the Mars Surveyor program, and Aerospace Technology, which is where funding for NASA's Space Launch Initiative is found. Within Space Science, funding is principally geared towards the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, one of NASA's "great" Hubble-class telescopes successfully launched to space last year. Additionally, work continues on the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, yet another of NASA's large Hubble-class, space-based telescopes and a long-standing priority for the scientific community. As indicated in the budget blueprint, no funding is provided for the Pluto-Kuiper Express (PKE), an issue of some concern to many in the scientific community. As costs began to rise for the PKE mission, NASA determined that it did not have sufficient funds to continue the program without making cuts in other space science missions. The Office of Management and Budget decided that providing healthy funding for NASA's other space science missions was preferable to cutting them in order to address PKE cost growth. Instead, NASA initiated an effort to develop advanced space propulsion technologies to determine if faster means of reaching Pluto might be developed at a lower cost. Additionally, the Solar Probe mission was canceled within the outer planets exploration program. However, NASA's Solar-Terrestrial Physics program, which studies the sun-Earth interaction, may still consider pursuing the Solar Probe mission should it prove a high science priority.

NASA's other programs within Science, Aeronautics, and Technology, such as Biological and Physical Research, Earth Science, and Academic Programs generally receive flat or slightly declining budgets. In some cases, such as Earth Science, this may be natural as large development programs, such as the Earth Observing System, have passed their peak development costs. (This is reflected in a sizeable increase for development of Earth Observing System follow-on activities and a modest increase in the Earth Science budget.) Several low-priority programs were canceled, including NASA's rotorcraft program within aeronautics and the University Earth System Science program within Earth Science. The rotorcraft industry and university community have both expressed concerns about these cancellations. A more diverse group of members in the aeronautics community including educators, employers, and the engineering profession, are becoming alarmed at the diminishing level of investment that NASA is directing to aeronautics research. They argue that NASA's reduced role in aeronautics research directly affects the future competitiveness of the U.S. aeronautics industry and U.S. military readiness and have recommended increasing spending on aeronautics.

4. Questions & Issues

  1. How does this year's budget structure differ from last year's budget structure and will the changes more accurately represent the costs of specific NASA programs and missions?
  2. The Space Science community works with the National Academy of Sciences to produce an annual decadal survey listing the science community's consensus about its highest priorities in astronomy and astrophysics. In the absence of such a consensus in planetary exploration and other areas of scientific inquiry, how does NASA set mission priorities for planetary exploration, earth science, and biological and physical research?
  3. The Space Launch Initiative continues to receive increased funding under the budget run-out accompanying the FY2002 request. How has this program been restructured?
  4. If Congress provides additional funding to continue the Space Launch Initiative, what specific technologies will NASA develop?
  5. NASA's goals for its aeronautics programs include increasing flight safety and addressing the needs of our air transport infrastructure. What mechanisms does NASA use to coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that NASA-developed technologies are applicable to the aforementioned tasks?
  6. What is NASA's timeframe for addressing cost growth in the International Space Station and what kind of options will it present to Congress for dealing with the future of this program?
  7. Does the increasing budget trend in Space Science create an imbalance among NASA's programs when compared to the flat or declining budgets requested for Earth Science, Biological and Physical Research, or Aeronautics?

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