The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News
Number 77: June 16, 2009
(This FYI is unusually long because of extensive committee report language on NASA. Readers are urged to click on the above link for a more readable version.)
There is important language in the House Appropriations Committee report accompanying the FY 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill on NASA's programs. The House is scheduled to consider this bill today. Tomorrow, Norman Augustine and his colleagues on the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Committee will hold their first public meeting on the space agency's manned programs. Information on this committee, with a link to the all-day meeting (starting at 9:00 A.M.) can be found at http://hsf.nasa.gov
There are 23-pages on NASA in House Report 111-149 that may be viewed at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app10.html. Selections from this report follow:
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 Committee recommended $18.203 billion, an increase of 2.4 percent or $420.9 million.
The report language states:
"Dr. Ralph Cicerone and Dr. Lennard Fisk both stated in testimony before the Subcommittee that NASA's science activities are not markedly different or less important than other science disciplines funded by the NSF and NIST, and that there was little reason for their exclusion from the doubling path envisioned for those agencies in the America Competes Act. The Committee's recommendation reflects this sentiment and continues to invest in NASA's science activities." (See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2009/040.html for a summary of this hearing.)
Also, of note: "Funding included in this Act provides for continued efforts to fly the Shuttle as safely as possible until its retirement in 2010," which indicates the committee's thinking on flying the shuttle beyond its scheduled retirement date.
There was extensive report language on the agency's financial management and other practices in this section of the report.
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 committee report has a two-page table with its recommendations for different science programs; NASA's FY 2010 request can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html
There are four programs within the Science Directorate:
FY 2009 appropriation: $1,704.6 million
FY 2010 request: $1,405.0 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $1,443.0 million
FY 2009 appropriation: $1,325.6 million
FY 2010 request: $1,346.2 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $1,348.3 million
FY 2009 appropriation: $1,281.2 million
FY 2010 request: $1,120.9 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $1,170.9 million
FY 2009 appropriation: $591.6 million
FY 2010 request: $605.0 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $605.0 million
The report included the following language:
"Earth science. - The Committee supports the development of Tier I missions in support of NASA's Earth science program. These missions, in coordination with small and medium class missions being developed by the agency, are critical to address global challenges in climate change and other areas.
"Earth science, other missions and data analysis. - The recommendation includes $201,300,000 for Earth science, other missions and data analysis. An increase of $15,000,000 is provided above the request to advance further the studies of the next two decadal survey missions, the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) and the Deformation, Ecosystem Structure, and Dynamics of the Ice (DESDnyl).
"Scatterometer. - The Committee directs NOAA and NASA to continue joint studies leading to a NOAA request in the fiscal year 2011 budget to build and fly an operational scatterometer to provide sea surface vector wind measurements. NASA should continue to co-fund this study in fiscal year 2010 and then supply its customary implementation support to NOAA satellite activities on a reimbursable basis beginning in fiscal year 2011. The Committee acknowledges that a radar scatterometer could have been adopted as an operational NOAA instrument many years ago and appreciates the support NASA has provided to the operational data users by flying scatterometers as part of its Earth science research mission.
"Orbiting carbon observatory (OCO). - In February, a rocket failure sent OCO into the ocean off the coast of Antarctica, depriving climate scientists of measurements meant to bridge data collected by a seven-year-old satellite and a more advanced spacecraft is not expected to launch for at least several years. This satellite was to map Earth's carbon dioxide concentrations in unprecedented detail. Several options have been suggested following the loss of the OCO: extend the operations of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Aqua spacecraft, launched in 2002; accelerate the development of the follow-on spacecraft, ASCENDS, which is currently not slated until after 2013; and building and flying another OCO. The Committee awaits NASA's informed judgment on how best to proceed, including schedule and cost estimates for its recommendation, but expects such determination by September 1, 2009.
"Near Earth object observations. - The recommendation includes $5,800,000 for near Earth object observations, an increase of $2,000,000 to support ongoing scientific research at the Arecibo Observatory in the fields of climate change and space weather.
"GLOBE. - Within the amounts provided for Earth science, $3,000,000 is provided for the GLOBE program. NASA is directed to work cooperatively with NOAA during fiscal year 2010 to transition program responsibility for GLOBE from NASA to NOAA.
"Mars program. - Exploring Mars remains one of NASA's most challenging and exciting endeavors. The Committee continues to support a robust Mars exploration program and recommends funds for the completion of the Mars Science Laboratory for launch in 2011.
"Astrophysics other missions and data analysis. - Within the amounts provided, not less than $50,000,000 is available to continue efforts in the use of the next generation of human space flight architecture to service existing and future observatory-class scientific spacecraft as identified in the conference report accompanying division B of Public Law 111-8 [FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act].
"Astrophysics exoplanet exploration, other missions and data analysis. - Building on NASA's decades of investment in interferometric capabilities and technologies, the Committee recommendation includes funds requested to enable SIM-Lite to continue mission concept, technology and risk reduction efforts in fiscal year 2010.
"Jupiter system mission. - In February 2009, after a competitive review by the world's leading planetary scientists and senior NASA leadership, NASA formally decided that the top priority Outer Planet flagship mission was the Jupiter Europa orbiter/lander, which would launch in 2020. This review also concluded that a mission to Saturn's moon, Titan, would follow later in the decade. The Committee continues to support the Jupiter Europa orbiter/lander and NASA's decision.
"The Jupiter system mission consists of two spacecraft to explore the Jupiter system and investigate the emergence of potentially habitable worlds around giant planets. The mission places a special emphasis on two of Jupiter's giant moons, Europa and Ganymede, and would be conducted in concert with the European Space Agency. The Committee recommendation includes $18,000,000 to further study the Europa Jupiter system mission and to address the primary risk to the mission, the energy particle radiation environment of Jupiter. Included in these funds shall be efforts to assist the science community in preparing to respond to the announcement of opportunity for the instruments.
"The Committee is concerned that the budget profile for the Outer Planets flagship mission to Europa appears inconsistent with a 2020 launch. Therefore, NASA is directed within 60 days of enactment of this Act to provide a projected full lifetime budget outline for the Europa mission, to include anticipated contributions from foreign partners, and an alternative budget profile that would accelerate the launch to 2018.
"Planetary science, technology. - Within the funds provided for planetary science, resources are provided for test and development of thermal protection systems (TPS), such as coal-based carbon foam ablative devices, in future missions to and from Mars and Moon"
FY 2009 appropriation: $500.0 million
FY 2010 request: $507.0 million, an increase of 1.4 percent or $7.0 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $501.0 million, an increase of 0.2 percent or $1.0 million.
FY 2009 appropriation: $3,505.5 million
FY 2010 request: $3,963.1 million, an increase of 13.1 percent or $457.6 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $3,293.2 million, a decline of 6.1 percent or $212.3 million.
This program provides funding for human and robotic exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
There is important report language regarding the Augustine Committee and two other matters:
"Adjustment pending Blue Ribbon Panel review. - In early May, the Administration announced that NASA initiated an independent review of planned U.S. human space flight activities and alternatives to ensure that the Nation is undertaking efforts that are safe, innovative, affordable and sustainable in the years following completion of the Space Shuttle manifest and retirement. The [Augustine] review panel is to consider:
- expediting a new U.S. capability to support use of the International Space Station;
- supporting missions to the Moon and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit;
- stimulating commercial space flight capabilities; and,
- fitting within the current budget profile for NASA exploration activities.
"The panel will present its results in time to support an Administration decision on the way forward by August 2009, during which time NASA will continue its current exploration projects, including Ares I, Orion, commercial crew and cargo efforts and lunar systems.
"In light of this ongoing review, and pending the recommendations of the panel and a determination by the Administration on the way forward, the Committee recommends deferring an increase from the fiscal year 2009 enacted level. This deferral is taken without prejudice to the existing architecture. The funding of $3,293,200,000 provided in this bill, together with $250,000,000 in funds provided for Exploration activities in the American Recovery and Reinvention [Reinvestment] Act of 2009, will provide resources for NASA to continue its efforts in human space flight in fiscal year 2010.
"The Committee reaffirms its commitment to preserve the United States' world leadership in space exploration. This Committee has long supported the Nation's space program; that support of NASA and its manned space program continues today. The Committee acknowledges the unsustainable circumstances the Nation finds itself today with the lag between the retirement of the Shuttle and the launch of the next generation manned spacecraft and encourages the Administration and NASA to mitigate that hiatus to the extent practicable. The Committee recognizes that the United States cannot maintain its world leadership in space exploration without a robust manned space program capable of carrying crews beyond low Earth orbit.
"The Committee looks forward to receiving the findings and recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel. To that end, however, the Committee asserts that its recommendations herein should not be viewed by the Blue Ribbon Panel as a diminution of the Committee's support for NASA's human space flight program. Previous budget requests have failed to fund fully the Nation's identified human space flight program, which over the years and in turn, have eroded in part NASA's ability to bring Constellation's initial operating capability within earlier established timelines. These budget shortfalls further exacerbate total program costs. Accordingly, after the work of the panel is complete, the Committee expects the Administration will amend its fiscal year 2010 budget request to fund fully the plan advocated by the panel and that the Administration's subsequent budget requests shall similarly include resources to fund fully the Nation's human space flight program. Lastly, the Committee looks forward to the appropriate authorizing committees' review and subsequent authorization of NASA's exploration programs and activities.
"International Space Station (ISS) research. - These funds support the study of life and physical sciences phenomenon in microgravity, as well as in the partial gravity environments of the Moon and Mars. In testimony before the Committee, Dr. Lennard Fisk noted that investments in life science and microgravity have suffered "far more egregious" and disproportionate reductions in investments than any other science discipline at NASA. Accordingly, within funds provided for exploration technology development, the Committee provides $50,000,000 for ISS research in fiscal year 2010, an increase of $28,200,000 above the request and $5,200,000 over fiscal year 2009.
"Technology infusion. - A total of $219,300,000 is provided for technology infusion, the same level as provided in fiscal year 2009. Within the funds provided, resources are available for the development of new technologies, including filament wound aluminum metal matrix composite technology for use in cryogentic fuels systems for space vehicles, to include Ares launch vehicles and the Altair lunar lander.
FY 2009 appropriation: $5,764.7 million
FY 2010 request: $6,175.6 million, an increase of 7.1 percent or
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $6,097.3 million, an increase of 5.8 percent or $332.6 million.
This appropriation provides funding for the International Space Station and Space Shuttle.
FY 2009 appropriation: $169.2 million
FY 2010 request: $126.1 million, a cut of 25.5 percent or $43.1 million
House Appropriations Committee recommendation: $175.0 million, an increase of 3.4 percent or $5.8 million.
The committee report stated:
"The Committee rejects the Administration's proposal to cut NASA's education programs from comparable fiscal year 2009 enacted levels. The 2005 National Academies' report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, noted that the scientific and technological building blocks of the United States' economic leadership are eroding at a time when other nations are gathering strength. The necessary key identified in the report is to improve America's talent pool by vastly improving Kindergarten through twelfth grade science and mathematics education. In addition, a recent congressionally-mandated task force found that by the end of this year, over one-quarter of the U.S. aerospace workforce will be eligible to retire, with too few engineers graduating from college to replace them. A continuing dearth of students and graduates in math, science and engineering cannot be sustained. Short-term cuts in education programs have long-term effects. Accordingly, for fiscal year 2010, the Committee recommends $175,000,000, an increase of $48,900,000 over the budget request, and $5,800,000 over comparable fiscal year 2009 enacted levels."
Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
The American Institute of Physics