SPECIAL UPDATE: The President's FY2009 NASA Budget Request

(Posted 2-13-08)

This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies. More details about NSF's budget for fiscal year 2009 are available from AGI's appropriation page for NASA.

On February 4, 2008, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Deputy Director Shana Dale presented the President's fiscal year (FY) 2009 request at $17.6 billion. The request represents a 1.8% increase above FY08 enacted levels and according to Dale "demonstrates the President's commitment to funding the balance of priorities he set forth for the agency in space exploration, Earth and space science, and aeronautics."

In the FY08 Appropriations Omnibus, Congress instructed NASA to restructure its accounting system and rather than allocating funding across three accounts (Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration; Exploration Capabilities; and Inspector General), funds are dispersed among seven
accounts (Space Operations, Exploration Systems, Science, Aeronautics, Education, Cross Agency Support, and Inspector General).

The Science Mission Directorate, which includes Earth Science, Planetary Science, Astrophysics and Heliophysics, would receive $4.4 billion in the FY09 proposal, a decline of 6% or $265 million compared to FY08 enacted levels. The Aeronautics directorate would fall by 13% or $65 million, totaling $447 million, and the Education account would decrease by 21% or $31 million for a total of $116 million. The increases in NASA's proposed budget boost the Exploration and Space Operations accounts by 11% and 5% for a total of $3.5 billion and $5.8 billion, respectively.

The Earth Science and Planetary Science programs within the Science Directorate are slated to get a boost in the FY09 budget to $1.37 billion and $1.33 billion, respectively, representing an increase of 7% in for both programs when compared to FY08 levels. The Astrophysics and Heliophysics programs would decline to $1.16 billion and $577 million, a 13% and 31% drop, respectively.

Deputy Director Dale emphasized NASA's receipt of the Decadal Survey for Earth Science, last year and the input the science community had on the formation of the missions within the Science Directorate. Dale stated that NASA's "budget runout (FY09-FY13) provides $910 million for the development of two Decadal Survey priorities, the SMAP Mission for soil moisture mapping and a second-generation ICEsat Mission, as well as formulation and early development work on three additional Decadal Survey missions." Decadal Survey Missions would receive $103.2 million in FY09, this is a 68% increase compared to FY08 enacted levels.

Other projects of interest within the Earth Science program include the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission that would increase by $51.4 million in FY09 to $125.8 million, the Landstat Data Continuity Mission that would increase slightly to $139.4 million in FY09 compared to $133 million in FY08, the Ocean Surface Topography Mission that would decrease by $52.5 million for a total of $80 million in FY09, and the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) that would decline to $25.4 million from $35.6 million.

During NASA's budget presentation Dale discussed the collaboration of the Science Directorate, specifically the Planetary Science program, with the Exploration Mission Directorate "to better understand our Moon," and increased funding in the FY09 budget proposal for lunar science as well as the development of two small lunar landers. The Lunar Science Research program would increase by $82 million or 362% above FY08 levels for a program total of $105 million. Deputy Director Dale also indicated that NASA will focus much of its effort on Mars missions until after 2013 and a sample return launch by 2020, this is reflected in proposed budget with a decline of $167 million or 30% in the Mars Exploration program for a proposed total of $385.6 million in FY09.

For more information on NASA's FY09 budget visit: http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html

Special update prepared by Marcy Gallo, AGI Government Affairs Program Staff.

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 13, 2008.