Congress, NASA

The Senate is more stimulating

While the House’s version of the proposed stimulus package offers only a modest amount for NASA, and none for spaceflight programs, the Senate appears to be in a more generous mood. A Senate Appropriations Committee press release about their bill notes that NASA would get $1.5 billion, compared to only $600 million in the House. The release is vague about how the money would be spent, specifying only that one-third of it be used for Earth sciences missions. According to Florida Today, though, another third of that $1.5 billion would go to “space exploration” [link updated after Fla. Today broke their own link], including efforts to shrink the Shuttle-Constellation gap; how much of that $500 million would go to that goal, and how, isn’t mentioned. (Also: $500 million would only shorten the gap by a modest amount—perhaps several months—at best.) Another $250 million would also be allocated to aeronautics programs.

The Florida Today article also adds that Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), who previously announced plans to seek an additional $2 billion for NASA in the House version of the bill, will formally file an amendment today asking for that additional funding. The money would be used either for shuttle life extension or Constellation acceleration, something she mentioned in an Orlando Sentinel op-ed last week.

3 comments to The Senate is more stimulating

  • red

    “(Also: $500 million would only shorten the gap by a modest amount—perhaps several months—at best.)”

    That’s true if it’s wasted (if I may use the term) on Shuttle extension or Ares, both of which are too expensive for $500M to help much. That amount would probably just slow by a bit the increase in the gap we see over time.

    Also, it seems to me that a Shuttle extension wouldn’t help as an economic stimulus in the short term. The Shuttle is booked already; adding a mission would mainly just keep the Shuttle workers busy a bit longer after the Shuttle would otherwise be retired – about 2 years from now. Ares funding would seem to be strange to do now when that program is in such controversy and due for an independent inspection.

    Now … if the $500M goes to something else, such as a COTS-D incentive for commercial crew transportation, it has a shot at shrinking the gap significantly. (It would have had a better shot if started years ago like it should have been).

    I wonder what types of funding is in the rest of that bill for NASA (the other $250M). Is it useful? Is it “shovel-ready”?

  • red

    (By the way, the Florida Today link seems to be broken).

  • red

    The actual Senate bill and report are now available at

    The bill is pretty vague on NASA (and some other agencies):


    For an additional amount for ‘‘Science’’, $500,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010.

    For an additional amount for ‘‘Aeronautics’’, $250,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010.

    For an additional amount for ‘‘Exploration’’, $500,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010.

    For an additional amount for ‘‘Cross Agency Support’’, $250,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010.

    For an additional amount for ‘‘Office of Inspector General’’, $2,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010.

    The report shows more of what they have in mind. The Science funds are recommended for “Earth science missions”, Aeronautics for “environmentally responsible aircraft”, Exploration “to shorten the gap”, Cross Agency Support for hurricane repair, facility repair, and supercomputers, and Inspector General funding to audit the other funds.

    I certainly would have come up with something different if my goal were a quick economic stimulus, a productive NASA, or both. Still, it could be good or it could be bad – there aren’t enough details. Will the Exploration funds vanish in a giant black hole like ESAS? Will the facility repairs be for facilities related to that giant black hole? Will the Earth Science funds vanish in an NPOESS abyss? Or, should these provisions make it into law, will NASA break the trends of the last few years and find more productive uses of the funds within the intent of the bill by choosing more manageable and/or commercially-oriented missions?

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>