Congress

NASA budget breakout: CR versus original request

A reader was kind enough to send me a comparison between what the House Appropriations Committee approved yesterday for NASA in its joint funding resolution (the official name for the year-long continuing resolution, or CR) and what the administration asked for almost exactly a year ago in its proposed FY2007 budget:

Area Joint Funding Res. FY07 Request
Science $5,251,200,000 $5,330,000,000
Aeronautics $890,400,000 $724,400,000
Exploration $3,401,600,000 $3,978,300,000
Cross-Agency $531,800,000 $491,700,000
Exploration Capabilities $6,140,000,000 $6,234,400,000
Inspector General $32,000,000 $33,500,000

“Exploration Capabilities” is principally shuttle and station. As I noted last night, exploration systems comes out as the biggest loser in this budget, with few immediate prospects for improvement.

18 comments to NASA budget breakout: CR versus original request

  • Tom

    Doesn’t look too bad to me. What does NASA expect? It’s pretty lucky that it receives all that it does.

    For the height of parochialism, read an exerpt from comments by Dave Weldon (R-FL)…

    “Clearly, the new Democrat leadership in the House isn’t interested in space exploration. Their omnibus proposal lists hundreds of new increases, including a $1.3 billion increase‹over 40% for a Global AIDS fund, all at the expense of NASA.”

    Pouring $billions into funding NASA development of a launch system that duplicates current capabilities is senseless.

  • Mark R Whittington

    Tom – You mean there is a launch system that can take people to the Moon? I was unaware of this.

  • Edward Wright

    > exploration systems comes out as the biggest loser in this budget, with few immediate prospects for improvement

    If you measure “success” by the number of dollars the agency consumes.

    If you measure success by the results that could be achieved, the agency has excellent prospects for improvement. By cancelling Ares and scaled back Orion to fit on existing launchers, NASA could accelerate its exploration timetable by several years, within the existing budget.

    The problem is simply that the patient doesn’t want to get well. Mike Griffin insists on unnecessary expenses, then complains he doesn’t get enough money.

  • Tom

    Tom – You mean there is a launch system that can take people to the Moon? I was unaware of this.

    No, I’m referring to vehicles that can transport large payloads into low Earth Orbit. Atlas and Delta can do this now. Ares I will do the same, while glutting the field even more.

    I agree with other readers that resources obtained during this limited window of opportunity would have been better spent developing the new capability needed for lunar missions, such as Ares V.

  • Anonymous

    “You mean there is a launch system that can take people to the Moon?”

    And there still won’t be in January 2009 when the new President takes office. Heck, we’ll be lucky if there’s been one, technically non-relevant, 4-segment test of the duplicative Shaft LEO van.

    What a waste of national capabilities and an historic opportunity…

  • Edward Wright

    > resources obtained during this limited window of opportunity would have been better spent developing
    > the new capability needed for lunar missions, such as Ares V.

    Ares V is not needed for lunar missions. Even if you hold that reusable vehicles are politically incorrect, there are numerous architectures that would enable lunar missions to be done with current expendable rockets. Two US companies, Space Adventures and Constellation Services, are marketing Apollo 8-style lunar missions right now, for around $100 million, using Soyuz and Proton rockets. ESA has developed an architecture for doing lunar landings with current rockets. Pete Conrad and Jim Chamberlin had plans to do lunar missions with Gemini hardware. Even Von Braun developed architectures for doing lunar landings with rockets comparable to today’s Proton, Delta, and Atlas.

    Mark’s constant argument against these architecture is that he’s “unaware” of them. It’s hard to say why Mark is unaware of them, since numerous people have explained them to him. It is a curious form of selective amnesia. Voluntary amnesia, I suspect, but regardless of its cause, there’s no reason why Mark’s unawareness of current space hardware capabilities should prevent the rest us from considering the full range of options.

  • anonymous

    “Ares V is not needed for lunar missions. Even if you hold that reusable vehicles are politically incorrect, there are numerous architectures that would enable lunar missions to be done with current expendable rockets. Two US companies, Space Adventures and Constellation Services, are marketing Apollo 8-style lunar missions right now, for around $100 million, using Soyuz and Proton rockets. ESA has developed an architecture for doing lunar landings with current rockets. Pete Conrad and Jim Chamberlin had plans to do lunar missions with Gemini hardware. Even Von Braun developed architectures for doing lunar landings with rockets comparable to today’s Proton, Delta, and Atlas.

    Mark’s constant argument against these architecture is that he’s “unaware” of them. It’s hard to say why Mark is unaware of them, since numerous people have explained them to him. It is a curious form of selective amnesia. Voluntary amnesia, I suspect, but regardless of its cause, there’s no reason why Mark’s unawareness of current space hardware capabilities should prevent the rest us from considering the full range of options.”

    This is exactly the kind of thinking NASA needed to undertake to get its lunar return effort underway as quickly as possible — before it’s political and budgetary window of opportunity closed. Unfortunately, the window has begun to close, and I don’t see Griffin or Scotty revisiting their choices before the window is likely to be shut completely after the next election.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Where does the Centennial Challenges fall? In the exploration system stuff? Or else where?

  • Anonymous

    “Where does the Centennial Challenges fall? In the exploration system stuff? Or else where?”

    Used to be in the exploration budget. Now it’s in the technology partnerships budget.

    It’s a moot question as Griffin has failed to either secure or ask for more prize funding in every year since taking office. Despite some great talk from him about prizes early on, he’s letting the program wither on the vine. There will probably be no new prizes until there is another new Administrator (and even that will depend on who that new Administrator’s priorities).

  • JoeBlow

    Good summary of the dangers of the next election to NASA’s exploration plans here:

    http://chairforceengineer.blogspot.com/2007/01/narrowing-launch-window.html

  • rasputin

    This is space station all over again.

    Mike knows better than this but still his ego drives him toward the cliff.

  • Adrasteia

    “Clearly, the new Democrat leadership in the House isn’t interested in space exploration. Their omnibus proposal lists hundreds of new increases, including a $1.3 billion increase‹over 40% for a Global AIDS fund, all at the expense of NASA.”

    Yeah, fuck the tens of millions of children in Africa dying of entirely preventable diseases that can be treated for less than $15 a year. We should be spending that money on worthy causes!

  • Hat

    NASA requires such a small portion of the national budget and gives so much back in the form of scientific advancements. They are not always tangible or directly related to flight hardware, but never the less important and helpful. There are so many other huge expenditures which could be cut by 1% and given to help the people of Africa or any other humanitarian action, and then some (if that 15$ a year figure is correct, which I doubt). As well as science, politicians think about how people feel about a country, how would American’s feel when they are left behind or no longer on the cutting edge of what could be considered one of the most endearing of engineering projects, Space Exploration. People get behind explores and are excited about them. They inspire children, there is no substitute for that. Countries like China and India who spend nothing compared to us in USA find it important to take a small sliver of their national pie to have a space program, why do we so easily overlook such a program as ours?

  • Edward Wright

    > It’s a moot question as Griffin has failed to either secure or ask for more prize funding in every year
    > since taking office. Despite some great talk from him about prizes early on, he’s letting the program wither
    > on the vine.

    The difference is, in past years, Griffin could do that without anyone noticing. Fanboys would just say, “NASA wanted to do prizes, but Congress wouldn’t fund them.” This year, the budget is not specified in that level of detail, so the choice is entirely up to Griffin. It’s a pure litmus test.

  • anonymous

    “The difference is, in past years, Griffin could do that without anyone noticing. Fanboys would just say, “NASA wanted to do prizes, but Congress wouldn’t fund them.” This year, the budget is not specified in that level of detail, so the choice is entirely up to Griffin. It’s a pure litmus test.”

    Good points. If you look at page SAE ESMD 3-5 in NASA’s 2007 budget request here:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/142458main_FY07_budget_full.pdf

    It appears that NASA did request $10 million for prizes in 2007. If Griffin does nothing, there should be a new round of prizes totalling $10 million starting this year.

    However, I don’t think Griffin and his budgeteers will sit on their hands on this one. Because this $10 million is within the exploration budget, I imagine Griffin (or Horowitz) will apply it to the $500 million hole in Constellation to make up for some small fraction of the Ares I/Orion slip. Although the prize program has been moved out of exploration to technology partnerships, I doubt the money will follow.

    Moreover, if you look at the changes from the 2006 request on that same page, Griffin cut $15 million from prizes in the 2007 request and $24 million from the 2006 request. (I think another $10 million was cut in 2006 by Congress, zeroing the program out for that year.) That’s $39 million worth of prior cuts to prizes, a strong indication that Griffin’s budget actions on prizes have not met his early rhetoric. I don’t see that pattern changing now that his current budget situation is so much tougher.

    But we’ll see… hope springs eternal.

  • Edward Wright

    > NASA requires such a small portion of the national budget and gives so much back in the form of scientific advancements.

    That claim is not supported by facts. The National Science Foundation produces many more breakthrough papers than NASA does, for less money.

    That will continue to be true as long as sending a researcher or experiment into space remains costs thousands of dollars per pound.

    > As well as science, politicians think about how people feel about a country, how would American’s feel
    > when they are left behind or no longer on the cutting edge of what could be considered one of the most
    > endearing of engineering projects, Space Exploration.

    The American people have *always* behind left behind, Hat. We were left behind when NASA went into orbit, we were left behind when NASA went to the Moon, and we will be left behind when NASA returns to the Moon. Mike Griffin could have elected to use commercial transportation to return to the Moon, which would have helped reduce transportation costs and helped make it possible for the rest of us to go. Instead, he chose to develop new rockets that will increase the cost of space transportation and make it harder for anyone (including NASA’s own astronauts) to go.

    > Countries like China and India who spend nothing compared to us in USA find it important to take a small
    > sliver of their national pie to have a space program, why do we so easily overlook such a program as ours?

    Because we aren’t a Communist dictatorship like China. We don’t have “a” space program; we have many space programs. NASA is only one. In the next few years, America’s private-sector space programs will dramatically increase the number of Americans who go into space. At the same time, under its current plans, NASA will be sending fewer astronauts into space than it did in the past. The “small sliver” you talk about is, in fact, a huge sum. Far more than what’s spent by India, which is actively working on reusable launch vehicles while NASA is trying to recreate 40-year-old space capsules. They are making progress while NASA simply repeats the past.

  • Adrasteia

    They are not always tangible or directly related to flight hardware, but never the less important and helpful. There are so many other huge expenditures which could be cut by 1% and given to help the people of Africa or any other humanitarian action

    Yes, there are hundreds of billions wasted in other programs building non-working superweapons and bridges-to-nowhere and whatnot that could be trimmed. That wasn’t what this congressman was proposing though. What he explicitly stated was that keeping a few hundred of his ATK buddies in a job (instead of using the much cheaper commercial alternatives) was much more important than saving millions of lives from malaria and HIV.

    If it came down to a binary decision of building this ludicrous ARES I/V series of rockets to place flags and footprints and perform dubiously small amounts of lunar science, (I suspect mostly geology), or spending that same $108B through 2018 on wiping out malaria, gastroenteritis, rotovirus, tuberculosis and HIV, that descision should be simple.

  • Adresteia: perform dubiously small amounts of lunar science, (I suspect mostly geology)

    Since when is “geology” automatically a “dubiously small” amount of science? Since when is geology automatically less important than other sciences? Why is gaining tiny bits of information looking at distant objects with receivers of what little electromagnetic information manages to get through both the galaxy’s dust lanes and Earth’s atmosphere somehow better science than actually going someplace and doing experiments and taking samples?

    – Donald

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