Congress, NASA

NASA funding details in final version of stimulus bill

Late last night the House Rules Committee published the text of the version of HR 1, the stimulus bill, that emerged from the House-Senate conference this week. The best place to look for details is the “Joint Explanatory Statement”, which includes both the funding amounts for NASA and how the money is to be used (look under Title 2, on page 16 of the 13.9 MB PDF file):

Science: $400 million, intended to “accelerate the development of the tier 1 set of Earth science climate research missions recommended by the National Academies Decadal Survey and to increase the agency’s supercomputing capabilities”.

Aeronautics: $150 million for “system-level research, development and demonstration activities related to aviation safety, environmental impact mitigation and the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).”

Exploration: $400 million, with no description of how the money is to be spent.

Cross Agency Support: $50 million, primarily intended to “restore NASA-owned facilities damaged from hurricanes and other natural disasters occurring during calendar year 2008.”

What’s most interesting about this, of course, is that Congress hasn’t stipulated how that $400 million should be spent on “exploration”. The statement does stipulate that NASA is directed to submit to Congress “a spending plan, signed by the Administrator, detailed its intended allocation of funds provided by this Act within 60 days of enactment of this Act.” Given that NASA doesn’t have an administrator yet, and that it will probably be several weeks before one is in place (taking into account the time needed for the Senate to confirm whomever is nominated), how to spend that money is going to be among the next administrator’s first decisions.

7 comments to NASA funding details in final version of stimulus bill

  • […] NASA funding details in final version of stimulus bill – Space Politics […]

  • How exactly will this create jobs in the near term? This just creates more unaccounted for wste in the federal government. This “freebie” money needs to be more carefully earmarked than just $400 million for exploration and you can detail it out to us later….. what? Come one guys, this our money, be a little more specific with it.

  • Doug Lassiter

    For NASA “Exploration”, in particular, the brevity with which this stimulus funding is described is indeed remarkable. NASA has no presidentially appointed and congressionally confirmed Administrator or Deputy Administrator right now, and yet they have 60 days to come up with a spending plan. In the case of $400M for NASA “Science”, you just give it to SMD, and apply guidelines of “climate change research” as bounded by well understood science community priorities. Brief, but fairly definitive. But in the case of $400M for “Exploration”, it’s not as clear. One wonders how the distribution between ESMD and SOMD will be decided, for example. In fact, the word “exploration” is used, in the NASA Authorization bill, in the description of human and robotic activities in all three of these directorates.

  • Charles In Houston

    The news just gets better…

    Given that we have several million to spend on “worthy” projects – now we have to wait for the long and exhaustive Federal spending process to grind on. We have to form source boards and write proposals and all of that “paperwork” such as getting competitive bids. Soon, people will be complaining that all of the money is just “sitting” there while the bureaucrats haggle. Much of that is due to the Federal Acquisition Regulations – otherwise we have to accept a lot of complaining about No Bid contracts, etc etc.

    People talk like the appropriations bill passes and then the checks start going out – but it just isn’t so.

    Sigh, not like I want to be so negative but this is the system we live with.

  • richardb

    400 million for exploration sounds good. But this could just be treading water if Nasa is put under another continuing resolution for the rest of the FY.
    The CR will amount to an inflation cut probably close to the 400 million.

    I’m guessing but this 800 billion bill, is all of this money going into the annual fiscal budget for the affected agencies? In other words, does Congress consider this permanent increases to the budget? If so would and extra $400/year to Nasa shift IOC for Ares I to the left at all? My guess to this is
    Yes, Yes and No.

  • Jeff Foust

    Richardb: it’s my understanding that, with the stimulus package done, Congress is going to be working in the next few weeks on appropriations bills for FY09. The current continuing resolution runs through early March. For NASA and many of the other agencies, the money in the stimulus package remains obligated through the end of FY2010, not 2009, and for the time being it’s considered a one-time supplement. Whether it will influence FY10 budget levels remains to be seen: the administration is expected to released the outline of its proposed budget later this month around the time of the State of the Union address and follow that up with more details by early April.

  • […] that the budget figures here are separate from the additional money NASA received in the stimulus package, which gave the agency an additional $1 billion for […]

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