Within the Space Science portion of this account, the Committee recommends $3,556,200,000, a net increase of $141,900,000 to the budget request.
The Committee is supportive of the New Frontiers Program as a competitive process to undertake missions to the outer planets. The Committee is concerned that the New Frontiers Program as proposed by NASA may be unduly constrained by a uniform cap on mission costs of $650 million. Since the purpose of the program is to undertake scientifically valuable missions, the cap should not limit the mission options being considered. The Committee supports New Frontiers with a flexible cap for each new opportunity ($500 million to $1 billion in fiscal year 2002 dollars) prior to open competition, giving due consideration to specified scientific objectives.
The Committee recommends the following adjustments to the budget request:
1. An increase of $2,500,000 for the Center for Space Sciences at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.
2. An increase of $105,000,000 for the Kuiper Belt/Pluto mission.
3. An increase of $40,000,000 for the Europa mission. In light of the high priority by the National Academy decadal study for a Europa Orbiter Mission and the public support for Europa exploration as indicated by the recent survey of the Planetary Society, the Committee directs NASA to conduct a focused technology program and begin Phase A activities to ensure that this mission is ready at the earliest possible opportunity and that NASA preserves its core capabilities to implement and manage such a mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Committee recommendation includes $30,000,000 for this activity and an additional $10,000,000 for instrument technology. The Committee is aware that JPL has an relationships with research universities on its outer planetary programs and anticipates that a majority of the $10,000,000 million will be expended solidifying those relationships.
4. An increase of $500,000 for Morehead State University, Kentucky, for upgrades to its ADAS satellite tracking facility.
5. An increase of $2,000,000 for propulsion testing facilities at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
6. An increase of $500,000 for the Ultra-lightweight Electroformed Segmented Large Aperture Optics program at Alabama A&M University.
7. An increase of $900,000 for High-Energy Photonics Instrumentation at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.
8. An increase of $7,500,000 for development of a lightweight carrier pallet to support the Hubble Space Telescope program. The recent success of the Hubble servicing mission has underscored the continued importance of the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA's plan for HST has been to discontinue servicing missions after 2004 in order to create a funding wedge for the next generation space telescope (NGST), the community's highest priority, and to return HST to earth in 2010. Although this scenario creates an important funding wedge, it also leads to a significant probability that HST will degrade over the intervening six-year period and become inoperable well before 2010. This gap may be so long that HST archival data alone may not sustain a productive scientific community. The Committee directs that NASA carry out an in-depth study of possible alternatives to the 2010 return mission that would increase the probability of operating HST until NGST becomes available. This study should address the possibility of an additional servicing mission, SM5, and as an alternative, a final servicing mission in 2007 in lieu of the 2010 mission that would include a means of disposing of HST other than by Shuttle return. This study should address the relative costs of such scenarios, the potential scientific benefits, and the mission constraints that will need to be considered for the 2010 return mission.
9. An increase of $19,900,000 to the Mars program to cover recent cost increases. This funding is derived through a decrease in funding for the flight projects building, a cancelled project at the Jet Propulsion Lab.
10. A decrease of $10,000,000 from the Nuclear Electric Propulsion program and a decrease of $7,000,000 from the Nuclear Power System program.