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(Biological and Physical Research) House Rpt.107-740 VA-HUD Appropriations Bill 2003

Status Report From: House Appropriations Committee
Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2002

Source: House Rpt.107-740 - DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2003

BIOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL RESEARCH

Within the Biological and Physical Research portion of this account, the Committee recommends $854,200,000, a net increase of $11,900,000 to the budget request. Within the amount provided, the Committee directs NASA to establish a floor of funding support for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute at $30,000,000 in fiscal year 2003. The Committee remains committed to a healthy and productive Materials Science research program. This program has undergone multiple reviews by the National Research Council. It has also produced a backlog of well-respected investigators whose experiments have undergone multiple peer reviews, certifying that they will provide useful scientific returns that can only be obtained in the microgravity environment of space.

The Committee is concerned that recent changes to the Materials Science program have jeopardized the ability of the International Space Station to support a robust materials science research program. Therefore, the Committee expects NASA to maintain its commitment to a healthy materials research program, which at a minimum includes the timely completion of the Materials Science Research Rack--1, its experiment modules and module inserts, and the planned, peer-reviewed materials investigations that were to utilize this facility.

The Committee recommends the following adjustments to the budget request:

1. An increase of $4,000,000 for the Space Radiation program at Loma Linda University Hospital.

2. An increase of $1,000,000 for Canisius College for multi-user scientific equipment in life sciences.

3. An increase of $1,000,000 for the Institute for Proteomic and Nanobiotechnology at Northwestern University.

4. An increase of $400,000 for the Center for Research and Training in gravitational biology at North Carolina State University.

5. An increase of $5,000,000 for the National Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics in Buffalo, New York.

6. An increase of $8,000,000 for procurement of animal and plant habitats for the international space station.

7. A decrease of $11,200,000 from the Generations program. The Committee recognizes the value of the research being proposed through the Generations program, but finds the program to unaffordable at this time given shortages in funding for equipment for the International Space Station.

8. The Committee notes that NASA's 15 Commercial Space Centers are all under the management of the Office of Biological and Physical Research and directs NASA to support Centers at a funding level of $18,500,000, an increase of $3,700,000 to the budget request.

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.

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