FY2006 NASA Appropriations (11-11-05)
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act
of 1958 to conduct space and aeronautical research, development,
and flight activities for peaceful purposes designed to maintain
United States preeminence in aeronautics and space. NASA's unique
mission of exploration, discovery, and innovation is intended
to preserve the United States' role as both a leader in world
aviation and as the pre-eminent space-faring nation. It is NASA's
mission to: advance human exploration, use and development of
space; advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding
of the Earth, the Solar System and the Universe; and research,
develop, verify and transfer advanced aeronautics and space technologies.
The geoscience community is most interested in the Earth science
observations conducted within the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration
Division at NASA.
For analysis of hearings held by Congress on NASA
appropriations, click here.
Fiscal Year (FY)
2006 NASA Appropriations Process
Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration
---- Solar System Exploration
---- The Universe
---- The Earth-Sun System
For fiscal year (FY) 2005, NASA has reorganized their science programs
and shifted FY 2005 enacted funding to accomodate this reorganization.
NASA's total budget is divided into three accounts: Science, Aeronautics
and Exploration; Exploration Capabilities; and Inspector General.
Within the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account, NASA has
created four "mission directorates": Exploration Systems,
Space Operations, Science, and Aeronautics Research. In August, 2004,
NASA consolidated Space Science, Earth Science and Biological &
Physical Research programs into the new Science
Mission Directorate. Programs that fell within this program were
then futher subdivided into Solar System Exploration, The Universe,
Earth-Sun System, which houses NASA's Earth science programs.
Consolidating NASA's research and development programs under the four
major mission directorates, NASA's Exploration Capabilities became
devoted solely to International Space Station and Space Shuttle operations.
The Aeronautics and Education Programs were not affected by the reorganization.
The Administration requested a total of $16.5 billion for FY2006,
an increase of 1.6% over the $16.2 billion provided in FY2005. In
accordance with President Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration,"
NASA plans to return the space shuttle to flight by July 2005, and
is planning 28 shuttle missions to complete construction of the International
Space Station. Comprising 39% of NASA's budget, the Space Station
and the Space Shuttle will receive $6.4 billion, up $169 million from
FY2005 and $945 million from FY04. Major spending for the development
of the new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is expected to start in
FY2006 with a "placeholder" request of $753 million to design
a prototype, an increase of $140 million over the FY2005 enacted level.
The total Science budget request is $5.5 billion, decreasing $51
million from the FY2005 enacted level. Among Earth science programs,
the Earth Systematic Missions program is slated for a $118 million
(40%) cut, stalling the Glory mission, which would observe weather
patterns at a global scale and address climate change questions. Earth
System Science Pathfinder Projects would increase by $27 million (25%),
resulting in a total $92 million reduction within the Earth-Sun System
The President's proposal would cancel funding for a Hubble Space
Telescope servicing mission, but requests $371 million for developing
its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope.
NASA budget documents are available online.
On June 16, 2005, the House passed the "Science, State, Justice,
Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006", which
includes funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). If the House version of the bill is enacted, NASA would receive
a total of $16.471 billion, which is an increase of $275 million,
or 1.7%, over FY2005 enacted levels and an increase of $15 million,
or 0.01%, over the President's request.
Overall Science funding would be set at $5.516 billion, which is
a decrease of $11 million below FY2005 enacted levels but an increase
of $40 million over the President's request. Within the Science division,
Solar System Exploration funding would increase $43 million above
FY2005, equal to the President's request. Universe science funding
would increase $9 million from FY2005 levels, $10 million above the
President's request. Earth-Sun System science funding would decrease
$63 million from FY05 levels, which represents a partial restoration
of the $92 million cut to Earth Science proposed by the Administration.
To offset these and other increases relative to the request, the committee
struck $25 million from the proposal for exploration systems research
and technology, $25 million from human systems research and technology,
and another $31 million in corporate administrative costs.
In the report accompanying the Appropriations bill, the House Appropriations
Committee expressed its support for Earth Science funding within NASA.
Several members voiced their support of the Administration's Vision
for Space Exploration but expressed an unwillingness to pursue exploration
priorities at the expense of Earth science programs, reasoning that
the proposed shift in funds might jeopardize U.S. leadership in science
and technology. The report states:
"The Committee is very concerned about the reductions to
NASA's science programs especially the drastic reductions to earth
science programs designed to provide a better understanding of
our planet. To begin to address this shortcoming the Committee
is providing $40,000,000 above the budget request. To paraphrase
the National Academy of Sciences concerning these science programs,
decades of research have improved health, enhanced national security,
and helped generate economic growth by providing critical environmental
information. While the National Academy is currently undertaking
a decadal review of NASA's earth science programs, at the behest
of the Congress the National Academy has provided an interim report
detailing what it believes are short-term urgent science requirements."
This $40 million increase over the President's request for science
programs includes $10 million within the Universe account for the
Space Interferometry Mission, and $30 million within the Earth-Sun
System account for the Glory mission, which measures aerosol properties
and quantifies their effect on climate. In the budget request, the
Administration had proposed to cut Glory to $5 million. According
to the committee, this shortfall "would clearly have resulted
in the unraveling of Glory as an integrated mission and resulted in
a certain delay in the launch of key instruments several years beyond
the planned launch date. NASA's Glory program is a key Global Climate
Change Research Initiative (CCRI) mission and critical to the achievement
of CCRI's science goals." Other Earth observation missions singled
out by the National Academies as threatened,
such as the Global Precipitation Measurements (GPM) mission be launched
without delay and that the Atmospheric Sounding from Geostationary
Orbit (GIFTS), were not specifically mentioned in the report.
Of the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM), which leads the nation's
search for other Earth-like planets in the Universe, the Committee
wrote: "NASA's search for planets and life beyond our solar system
is having increasing and dramatic success with over 150 planets now
discovered. SIM is expected to examine 2,000 to 3,000 stars for planetary
systems to fulfill a critical step in the search for Earth-like planets.
The Committee is providing these additional funds to help ensure that
SIM's important mission is maintained."
NASA's Project Prometheus, which will develop advanced nuclear technologies
for powering spacecraft, survived an amendment on the floor by Rep.
David Obey (D-WI) that would have cut funding from the project in
order to support state and local law enforcement programs within the
State Department. The committee also expressed support for a mission
to Jupiter's moon Europa that would use conventional technologies
rather than nuclear technology from Project Prometheus: "The
Committee urges NASA to consider incorporating a non-nuclear Europa
mission as part of its fiscal year 2007 budget request."
Other increases to the budget request for NASA under the House bill
include $53 million to fully restore the proposed cuts to NASA's aeronautics
program, $2 million for education programs, and $50 million worth
of Congressional earmarks.
The texts of the House appropriations bill, H.R.2862, and the House
Committee report, H.Rept.109-118, are available here.
The House Appropriations
subcommitte for Science, State, Justice and Commerce is chaired by
Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA);
other members include Reps. Taylor
(R-NC), Kirk (R-IL), Weldon
(R-FL), Goode (R-VA),
LaHood (R-IL), Culberson
(R-TX), Alexander (R-LA),
Mollohan (D-WV), Serrano
(D-NY), Cramer (D-AL),
Kennedy (D-RI) and
On September 15, 2005, the full Senate passed spending measures for
the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
by a vote of 91 - 4. The bill included a total of $16.4 billion for
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is
a 2% increase from the fiscal year (FY) 2005 funding levels excluding
emergency supplemental appropriations. The Senate appropriation is
$60 million below the budget request, including a $160 million cut
from NASA's Exploration Capabilities, and a $100 million increase
for Science and Aeronautics Programs.
During a week-long debate, Senators tacked on $4.3 billion
worth of hurricane Katrina-related emergency spending measures, which
may compound already uncertain conference negotiations. Although the
House bill includes funding for the Justice Department whereas the
Senate bill does not, the greatest discrepancy between the Senate
and House bills lies in science funding. The Senate bill provides
$1 billion more in funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration than the House, however, the Senate bill provides $100
million less than the House for NASA and the NSF.
According to reports in Congressional Quarterly, until
Congress can reach agreements on this and other spending bills, a
continuing resolution to fund government agencies into the next fiscal
year will temporarily appropriate the lowest amount recommended by
the House or Senate.
The Senate bill includes cuts to the President's request for exploration
programs while adding some funds to the Science Directorate, namely
$100 million to the Earth-Sun System program. In the report accompanying
the bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee gives a lengthy overview
of its reservations and disappointments regarding the Administration's
Vision for Space Exploration and NASA's FY 2006 budget justifications.
Specifically, the committee calls on NASA to provide greater detail
about how the agency arrived at budgeting decisions, and directs the
agency to provide "out-year budget impacts of all reprogramming
requests" in future years. In general, the committee expressed
skepticism about the success of NASA's ambitious programmatic reorganization
in the absence of comprehensive authorization legislation. Authorization
legislation has been making its way through the House and Senate concurrent
with the appropriation bills. Cuts and delays in science and aeronautics
programs are among the committee's main concerns, as the report states:
"The new National space policy to proceed with human and
robotic exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond has profound
implications for all of the science conducted by NASA. While the
Committee applauds those goals, it is concerned that the strong,
balanced science program that has served the Nation so successfully
for many years could be left behind instead of being nurtured
and sustained. That science program has been based on a set of
carefully crafted scientific strategies that are founded on scientific
and technical merit, relevance to overall national needs, and
broad consultation with the scientific community. NASA is encouraged
to look for ways to maintain a balance with the productive science
NASA is known for and currently has underway, while taking the
steps to fulfill the exploration vision.
"The Committee is concerned that NASA will neglect areas
that will only tangentially benefit from, or that do not fit within,
the proposed vision. Within the fiscal year 2006 budget request,
programs and infrastructure are proposed to be deferred or cancelled
in such areas. These programs appear to be the sacrifices for
the near-term budgetary resources needed to facilitate the implementation
of the Moon/Mars vision."
The Senate committee set total funding for Science, Aeronautics and
Exploration at $9.8 billion, exactly $100 million above the President's
budget request. Within this account, the Science Mission Directorate
would receive $5.7 billion under the bill, a $134 million increase
over the request. Whereas the House specified that an additional $40
million would fund only the Space Interferometry mission and the Glory
mission, the report that accompanies the Senate bill reveals few specific
directives for distributing the added funds. However, the committee
states at length that it endorses maintaining a strong Earth science
program at NASA:
"Earth science has been a critical part of the balanced
space program long advocated by this Committee. The Committee
remains fully committed to a robust Earth science program at NASA
notwithstanding the recent headquarters reorganization plan. The
Committee expects NASA to remain fully committed to Earth science,
with future missions that reflect a serious commitment to Earth
science as a vital part of the Nation's space program. The Committee
further recommends $102,837,000 within this account to supplement
activities within the areas of earth science and exploration.
Much of the committee's endorsement is based on the National Academy
of Sciences' recently released interim report on Earth Science
and Applications from Space, a decadal study to be completed by
the end of 2006. The committee directs NASA to have an implementation
plan for FY 2007 that would address and revive the highest priority
Earth science missions in FY 2007. "In addition, the Committee
fully expects this implementation profile to have a continuous mixture
of small-, medium-, and observatory-class earth science missions that
guarantee regular and recurring flight opportunities for the earth
Among the committee's recomendations, an additional $15 million would
be provided for a NASA Earth Science Applications Program, which will
competitively select project proposals that use NASA's Earth observing
data and models to serve "national priorities" such as homeland
security, coastal management, agriculture, water management and disaster
management. The committee also directs NASA to ensure that the Earth
observating data information system (EOSDIS) remains the "operational
foundation of the...ground system to implement all of the new missions
funded as a result of the Earth science decadal survey."
Another specific endorsement offered by the committee is in support
of continuing the Hubble Space Telescope. The Senate bill includes
an additional $250 million to provide an SM-4 servicing mission to
be completed by the end of 2008, "pending a final decision by
the NASA Administrator."
Finally, the committee recommends $12 million total for the NASA
Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research [EPSCoR], $29
million for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program
(Space Grant), and $54 million for other education-related activities.
The full text of the bill (HR2862) and the House Report (109-88 )
is available on the Library of Congress website: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app06.html
The United States Senate will be considering funding for the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration in the Commerce, Justice and
Science Subcommittee of the Senate
Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Senator Richard
Shelby (R-AL), other members include Senators Gregg
(R-NH), Stevens (R-AK),
Domenici (R-NM), McConnell
(R-KY), Hutchison (R-TX),
Brownback (R-KS), Bond
(R-MO), Mikulski (D-MD)
(Ranking Member), Inouye (D-HI),
Leahy (D-VT), Kohl
(D-WI), Murray (D-WA),
Harkin (D-IA), and Dorgan
House and Senate conferees reached an agreement on the Science, State,
Justice and Commerce Appropriations Bill (HR
2862) on November 4, 2005. The overall bill contains $51.8 billion
in budget authority and appropriates $48.4 billion in discretionary
funds. According to a Senate Appropriations Committee press
release, the $48.4 billion is equivalent to a $600 million increase
above FY 2005 appropriations and $1.5 billion above the budget request,
excluding the Strengthening Americas Communities Initiative.
The conference agreement provides $16.4 billion for the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Barring additional rescissions
imposed by Congress, NASA's total budget would increase roughly 2%
from FY 2005. Comparisons in the report between the conference agreement
and FY 2005 levels do not include emergency supplemental funding or
rescissions to last year's appropriations. Additionally, comparisons
to the administration's request do not take into account the FY 2006
budget amendment that was submitted when NASA unveiled its plan for
developing a new Crew Exploration Vehicle this September.
Under the agreement, NASA's FY 2006 total budget is nearly identical
to that proposed in the original presidential request, but the final
bill would shuffle large portions of this funding. The bill would
strip $440 million in Bush administration priorities, including over
$200 million from NASA's Exploration Program, and put back $540 million
in increases to the budget request, including $280 million worth of
Congressional earmarks, $60 million to partially restore cuts to the
Aeronautics Program, and $50 million for select Earth Science programs
that had been scheduled for a cut. The amount of money restored to
NASA's Earth Science division in the final bill would fall below the
Senate's recommended addition of $100 million but comes in $20 million
above what the House had recommended. Another notable reduction included
in the final conference report is an $80 million cut to the International
Space Station (ISS) budget. Within this account, conferees removed
$60 million from crew and cargo services and encouraged NASA to employ
commercially developed capabilities.
Out of the $9.7 billion provided for Science, Aeronautics and Exploration,
$5.5 billion would go towards the Science Mission Directorate, a mere
$24 million over the previous year's budget and $70 million more than
the president's request. In the report, the conferees make clear that
science should remain a core commitment at NASA; however, they also
concede that budget constraints have inhibited Congress from fully
restoring the administration's proposed cuts to these programs.
"The conferees are supportive of NASA's new vision and mission
for space exploration and the conference agreement includes funds
for the Administration's priorities for these activities. However,
the conferees remain concerned about the need to maintain the nation's
leadership in science and technology. To this end, the conferees
have not agreed to the Administration's proposed reductions to the
aeronautics research program or science programs, and have partially
restored funding to these core programs. However, given the serious
nature of the budget deficit facing the nation, the conferees were
forced to make a number of difficult choices in allocating the scarce
resources available to NASA. The conference agreement includes a
budget that supports both the new vision and NASA's other core functions."
Within the Science Mission Directorate, the Earth-Sun System account
will receive $2.1 billion, the Solar System account will receive $1.8
billion, and the Universe account will receive $1.6 billion. The report
includes, by reference, language included in the Senate bill that
states the importance of the National Academy of Science's decadal
study on the current status and future of Earth Science satellite
missions (see Senate update). The report also adopts Senate language
directing NASA to ensure that the Earth observing data information
system (EOSDIS) remains the "operational foundation of the...ground
system to implement all of the new missions funded as a result of
the Earth science decadal survey."
Changes to the budget request in the Earth-Sun System account include
the House bill's recommended $30 billion increase to continue the
Glory mission, which is an important component of the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Change Research Initiative
(CCRI). It also adds $5 million for the "Living with a Star"
program and $15 million for an Earth Science Applications program
as proposed in the Senate bill. Earth Science Applications is a competitive
grant program for research and development projects that integrate
the results of NASA's Earth observing systems and Earth system models
(using observations and predictions). These integrated tools would
be used to improve homeland security, coastal management, agricultural
efficiency and disaster management decisions.
Conferees rejected the administration's plan to fly a Landsat-type
instrument on a NOAA spacecraft, a key component to the Landsat Data
Continuity Mission, which is a project involving NASA, NOAA, and the
U.S. Geological Survey. "The conferees now understand that such
a mission is no longer feasible for both funding and technical reasons,"
the report states, directing the three agencies and the Office of
Science and Technology Policy to come up with a new plan within 4
months of the bill's enactment.
Solar System Exploration programs will remain at approximately FY
2005 levels after sustaining a $40 million cut from the president's
request, most of this reduction coming out of the budget for the shuttle
Discovery. Meanwhile, conferees agreed to increase the Exploration
Systems budget to fund components of NASA's "Exploration
Systems Architecture" that was released in September. These
increases include $20 million in additional funds for risk reduction
activities relating to the development of the new Crew Launch Vehicle,
and $5 million to begin planning for a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle,
which the conferees called "critical" to NASA's exploration
Within Universe programs, the conference agreement adds $10 million
to the budget request for the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM),
which is designed to search for Earth-like planets in neighboring
solar systems. The conference agreement adds another $50 million to
prepare for an SM-4 servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope,
as proposed in the Senate. Maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope
has received increased support throughout congressional deliberations
this year. In the report, conferees "reiterate their position
that the Hubble Space Telescope has been one of NASA's most successful
programs and remains one of the top priorities for the nation's space
program." For development of the James Webb Telescope, a successor
to the Hubble, the conference agreement provides $372 million, the
same as the budget request.
The conferees made special reference to the Mars program in the conference
report, calling it "a key element of the nation's vision for
space exploration." The final agreement provides $680 million
for the program in FY 2006, consistent with the president's request.
Within NASA's education programs, the conference agreement provides
a total of $12.5 million for NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate
Competitive Research. Additionally, the conferees recommend a total
of $30 million for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship
Program, enough to fund 40 grantees at $611,250 each and 12 grantees
The full text of the bill (HR
2862) and conference report (109-272)
are available at http://thomas.loc.gov
- April 28, 2005: House Science Committee,
Hearing on Whether Severe Budget Cuts May Threaten the Vitality
of NASA Earth Science Programs
- February 17, 2005: House Science Committee
Full Committee Hearing on the NASA FY 2006 Budget Proposal
Hearing on Whether Severe Budget Cuts May Threaten the Vitality
of NASA Earth Science Programs
April 28, 2005
Alphonso Diaz, Associate Administrator at NASA for the Science Mission
Dr. Berrien Moore, Co-Chairman, the National Academy of Sciences Decadal
Survey, "Earth Observations from Space: A Community Assessment
and Strategy for the Future," and Director for the Institute
for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New
Dr. Tim Killeen, Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research
in Boulder, Colorado.
Dr. Marcia McNutt, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Monterey
Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California.
Dr. Sean Solomon, Director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Dr. Ray Williamson, Research Professor in the Space Policy Institute
at The George Washington University.
On April 28, 2005, the House Science Committee initiated what may
be a series of hearings that question NASA's plans to cancel or delay
a number of Earth science satellite missions. For Fiscal Year (FY)
2006, NASA has proposed to spend $1.37 billion for Earth science research,
an 8% cut from FY 2005 levels, and a 24% cut in real dollars from
FY 2004, according to Science Committee ranking member Bart Gordon.
A day before the hearing, the National Research Council (NRC) released
an interim report
on the status of federal Earth science programs, which found that
tight budgets at NASA and other agencies are threatening the value
and preeminence of U.S. Earth observing systems. Concerned with these
findings, committee members called on senior U.S. scientists to offer
testimony regarding NASA's role in meeting future scientific priorities.
This testimony, along with a press release and charter released by
the committee can be found on the committee's website.
Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert, Representative Gordon, and
other members of Congress have been concerned that cuts to Earth observing
missions are due to NASA's strategic reorientation around the President's
"Vision for Space Exploration." In his opening remarks,
Chairman Boehlert challenged the apparent shift in priorities. "The
planet that has to matter most to us is the one we live on,"
he said. "You'd think that would go without saying." Gordon
added that under the proposal, Earth science and aeronautic programs
would absorb 75% of the overall cuts that NASA must sustain to meet
tight budget constraints. In comparison, exploration programs would
only account for 10% of the overall cuts.
Al Diaz, NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate,
was first to testify at the hearing. He urged the public to interpret
the changes within NASA as part of a federal agenda to expand Earth
science into a national program. Earth sciences within a national
program will benefit from the President's space exploration initiative
and contribute to stronger U.S. leadership in Earth-systems research
by involving more stakeholders. "We are in the midst of a transition
in Earth science from a NASA-centric approach to a national strategy
that maximizes all of our national capabilities," Diaz testified.
"These changes have created some anxiety, and I recognize that
it can cause some to question our commitment to Earth science."
Offering testimony on the NRC report was Berrien Moore, who co-chairs
the 18-member panel "Earth observations and applications from
space." The report released April 27th is an initial summary
of a larger, comprehensive decadal survey projecting federal Earth
observing capabilities and priorities through 2020. The NRC panel
recommended either immediate continuation or "urgent" reconsideration
of several threatened satellite missions, which are summarized with
their current status in the table below. The delay or cancellation
of these missions, according to Moore, would jeopardize NASA's ability
to meet it's obligation to non-exploration Presidential initiatives,
such as the climate change research initiative and the Global Earth
Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
Reduce vulnerability to floods and droughts; improve
forecasts of hurricanes
from Geostationary Orbit
Temperature and water vapor
Improved weather forecasts and severe storm warnings
Ocean Vector Winds
Wind speed and direction
near the ocean surface
Improved warnings to ships at sea; better predictions
of El Nino
Landsat Data Continuity
Monitor land-use changes; find mineral resources
Optical properties of aerosols; solar irradiance
improved understanding of climate change
Wide Swath Ocean Altimeter
Ocean Surface Topography
Monitor changes that affect fisheries, navigation,
and ocean climate
Table 3.1 from National Research Council interim report "Earth
Science and Applications from Space"
Among NASA's strategies are plans to shift some of the agency's climate
data systems to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), a plan that Committee leaders argued was a poor rationale
for cutting NASA programs. "Having NASA claim that NOAA will
take over activities when there is no indication of that in NOAA's
plans or budget strains credulity," said Chairman Boehlert. "It's
the sound of one hand clapping, and it won't get any applause from
While the NRC panel would strongly support agency partnerships, Moore
testified that in the near-term, the transfer of operations from NASA
to NOAA involves "technological and scientific issues we don't
understand." According to the American Geophysical Union's weekly
publication EOS, Moore had not even been aware of NASA's plans to
accelerate a "national program" as described by Diaz. All
the scientists testifying before the committee agreed that federal
budget strategies must realize the fundamentally different roles that
NASA, NOAA, and USGS play in basic research, technological development,
deployment, and assessment. NASA, Moore explained, is research and
development-oriented, while NOAA is purely operational. Therefore
the long-term viability of NOAA to sustain a robust Earth science
program depends on NASA.
When Boehlert asked the panelists to offer further insight into NASA's
unique value, the scientists were quick to respond. Ray Williamson,
research professor of space policy at George Washington University,
corroborated the NRC report's findings that U.S. leadership in Earth
observing systems could simply not survive without NASA. According
to Tim Kileen, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research,
NASA has been known for the unique coupling of rapid technological
advancement and scientific analysis that has single-handedly positioned
the U.S. "on the brink of a new era in Earth science research".
Marcia McNutt of the Monterey Bay Aquarium said that NASA is the only
civilian agency that has the "capacity, tradition, and track
record" to provide the necessary capital and leadership in Earth
science. If transferred to NOAA, McNutt warned, the Earth science
program would be "severed from the root of technology that feeds
it," and "innovation within the program would wither and
According to representative Ken Calvert (R-CA), the bottom line in
the debate was the need for better strategic interaction among agencies.
Although Calvert wished to defend Diaz's statement that NASA does
not intend to abandon Earth sciences, he said "strategy should
always come before budget constraints in determining programs,"
implying that the current status of partnerships among NASA, NOAA
and the Department of Defense is not condusvie to acheiving the national
policy NASA is aiming for in the FY 2006 budget proposal.
Science Committee Full Committee
Hearing on the NASA FY 2006 Budget Proposal
February 17, 2005
Mr. Frederick D. Gregory, NASA Acting Administrator
The House Science Committee initiated the first congressional debate
over President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration in the first of
a series of hearings, which will consider NASA's FY06 budget proposal
and lead to the introduction of a NASA authorization bill. Committee
Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) declared "I want to do an authorization
bill because I think it's critical that Congress have a full and open
debate on the President's Vision for Space Exploration and the future
of NASA before NASA barrels ahead with the program," adding,
"I don't think NASA should be our top budget priority in either
this Committee or the Congress." Boehlert also announced the
formation of a new Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, to be chaired
by Congressmen Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Tom Udall (D-NM).
Chairman Boehlert questioned NASA Acting Administrator Frederick
Gregory on when NASA will be able to provide answers to several feasibility
issues facing the International Space Station, space shuttle flight
plans, and the development of a new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV).
Members of the Committee also questioned Gregory heavily on changes
in NASA's workforce, funding cuts for aeronautics and earth sciences,
and the discontinuation of the Hubble Telescope.
NASA plans to return the space shuttle to flight by as early as May
of this year, and the agency estimates it will need to run 28 shuttle
missions to complete construction of the Space Station. Comprising
40% of NASA's budget, these two programs will receive $6.4 billion,
up $169 million from FY05 and $945 million from FY04. In the hearing,
Gregory deflected doubts as to whether the agency will be able to
complete the 28 missions by 2010, when the shuttle is to be retired.
The major obstacle in completing construction however, is the Iran
Non-proliferation Act (INA), which prohibits the U.S. from exchanging
resources and services unless the President certifies that Russia
is not involved in the proliferation of nuclear materials from Iran.
Space Station missions are stalled without assistance from Russian
crew rescue vehicles. Gregory testified that NASA will submit an amendment
to the treaty to be considered by Congress by the end of February,
but cited no contingency plan should the INA not be amended.
Major spending for the development of the new Crew Exploration Vehicle
(CEV) is expected to start in FY06, single-handedly increasing Exploration
Systems funding by $500 million dollars from FY05 to $3.165 billion
under the request. NASA is requesting a "placeholder" of
$753 million (up from $140 million for FY05), which will go towards
designing a prototype. To this end, Gregory reported that the agency
is working actively with 11 teams of private entrepreneurs and plans
to issue basic parameters for the design by March 1.
Several members of the committee expressed concern over cuts in Aeronautics
and Earth Science programs, which show only a slight decrease in the
budget request, but fall hundreds of millions below the figure previously
projected for FY06. Funding for earth sciences would be further offset
in the Science budget due to increases for the Lunar Reconnaissance
Orbiter (LRO) mission, which will gather data in preparation for the
Reps. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) expressed their disappointment
at the decision to discontinue servicing the Hubble Telescope, discounting
Gregory's claims that servicing missions would be too risky. "The
Hubble in a week will probably be more productive than the entire
lifetime of the Space Station," exclaimed Ehlers, "certainly
28 flights to the International Space Station will have a higher risk
than one Hubble mission." But Gregory assured the committee that
the "world-class" astronomy program would continue through
new telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope, for which NASA
requested $371 million in FY06.
To learn more, read the Science Committee's hearing
charter for an extensive overview of major issues and budget details.
Sources: NASA Budget Information website, hearing testimony, House
Science Committee Feb. 17 Hearing Charter, H.R.2862, H.Rept.109-118,
and American Institute of Physics.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government
Affairs Program at email@example.com.
Contributed by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs Program,
Katie Ackerly, AGI/AAPG 2005 Spring Intern, and John Vermylen, 2005
AGI/AIPG Summer Intern.
Last Update September 30, 2005