SPECIAL UPDATE: The President's FY2007 NASA Budget Request

(Posted 2-28-06)

This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

The administration is requesting a total of $16.6 billion for NASA’s FY2007 budget, an overall increase of 3.2% from FY2006. In keeping with the President’s "Vision for Space Exploration," the biggest boost goes to the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, which will receive an increase of $928 million in order to develop the Crew Exploration Vehicle and Crew Launch Vehicle by 2014. In NASA's budget document they state “NASA is confident this budget provides sufficient funds to support the operational availability of these systems by no later than 2014. However, it is NASA’s goal to have these critical vehicles available to the Nation as soon as possible after the Space Shuttle completes it mission to assemble the International Space Station in 2010. This budget also supports industry initiatives to supply commercial services to low Earth orbit.” This increase is compensated by a large decrease in Space Shuttle funding (about $720 million would be cut from FY 2006 appropriations) as well as cuts in aeronautics research and education programs.

The request for the Science Mission Directorate shows a slight increase to $5.33 billion, up 1.5% from the FY2006 enacted level. NASA Administrator Mike Griffin noted that “NASA’s budget for space and Earth Science has seen significant budget increases for over a decade, far surpassing any growth in NASA's top-line budgets during those years. For FY 2007-11, we cannot afford such growth for science within the context of a top-line budget that is growing at essentially the rate of inflation. Thus, NASA's science budget will grow by 1.5 percent in FY 2007 and 1 percent thereafter between 2008 and 2011.”

Of the $5.33 billion requested for the Science Mission Directorate, $2.2 billion is devoted to the Earth-Sun System, which houses the agency’s Earth science programs. The biggest change is a $137.8 million (84%) increase to the Earth Systematic Missions program. This increase reflects in large part the Landsat Data Continuity Mission’s transition into from formulation to development beginning in March 2007, which is accompanied by a $71 million funding increase. An additional increase of $38.4 million is requested for the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project due to a two-year delay in its launch date from October 2006 to April 2008. Launch dates have also been delayed for the Ocean Surface Topography Mission (from April 2008 to June 2008) and the Global Precipitation Mission (from June 2010 to December 2012).

The largest cuts in the Earth-Sun System budget request are in the Applied Sciences and Explorer programs. Although the Explorer budget is nearly halved by a $56.5 million (43%) cut, most of the decrease reflects a transition from development to operations for both the Aeronomy of Ice in Mesophere (AIM) and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) missions. The remainder of the Explorer request would provide $40.2 million for the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, a new program that will map the boundary of the solar system.

Funding requests for other programs within the Earth-Sun System show relatively minor changes from FY2006. Living with a Star, which studies the effects of the Sun’s variation on the Earth, would lose $12.9 million (5%). Earth-Sun Research, focused on climate prediction, weather, and natural hazards, would decrease by $3.7 million (0.4%). The Earth System Science Pathfinder program would gain $19.6 million (14%). The increased funding would provide mission operations funds for CloudSat and CALIPSO (both launching in 2006 after a one-year delay) as well as development funding for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and Aquarius. Finally, the request includes a minor increase of $0.6 million (2.6%) for education and outreach with the Earth-Sun System program.

Additional information is available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/appropsfy2007_nasa.html.


Alert prepared by Jenny Fisher, AGI/AAPG Spring 2006 Intern

Sources: NASA budget documents and the American Institute of Physics

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted February 28, 2006