NASA, White House

FY10 budget details (or lack thereof)

The Obama Administration released this morning its FY10 budget outline, including a two-page section on NASA’s budget request. The document contains little additional information than what Aviationweek.com reported last night: only a topline figure of $18.7 billion is included in the document. The document emphasizes support for Earth sciences, aeronautics, ISS, and human and robotic exploration, without getting too deep into specifics.

The budget document does stick to the plan to retire the shuttle by the end of 2010, noting that “an additional flight may be conducted if it can safely and affordably be flown by the end of 2010″ as Congress requested in the 2008 NASA authorization bill. Also, the document does not mention Ares or Orion by name, instead stating that by retiring the shuttle, funding will be freed up “to support development of systems to deliver people and cargo to the International Space Station and the Moon”, including “private-sector development and demonstration of vehicles that may support the Agency’s human crew and cargo space flight requirements,” a reference to COTS and ISS commercial resupply.

16 comments to FY10 budget details (or lack thereof)

  • Yeah, the mention of private sector development of crew capabilities was good to hear. As I was mentioning to Rand, when you have an $18B agency, it doesn’t actually need to be heading in the right direction to still do good. $18B times the cosine of even 89 degrees is still a big number. I’m glad that Obama’s putting at least a little emphasis on something that might actually benefit the American people as opposed to just benefiting politicians in a few states.

    ~Jon

  • Major Tom

    One of many potential reasons why the Obama Administration has committed to the lunar goal and is making apparent references to COTS but not Ares I/Orion:

    http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2009/02/oig_on_conflict.html

    The NASA IG has found that one-third of the members of suppossedly independent standing review boards for Constellation have conflicts of interest.

    Not good… not good at all…

    FWIW…

  • Doug Lassiter

    Yes, but you’ll notice that the Moon by 2020 is now a best-effort enterprise. Read the words. I have a strong suspicion that we’re headed toward a change of plans, though the evolution of those plans may happen fairly slowly. We’re going to get an Orion on top of some launcher that will get us to ISS, and we’re going to retire Shuttle. But beyond that, I would say it’s pretty fuzzy.

  • richardb

    The fact that Obama is committing to the Moon by 2020, the Bush vision, means he won’t rock the boat on Ares I. It will rise or fall on its merit. I can’t see how we get to the Moon in 11 years if we cancel Ares I/V in 2009. Actually is less than 11 years since if Nasa ditched Ares 1 today, they’d go into RFP hell, contractor lawsuit hell over the next two years before new metal was getting cut. Obama is sticking with Ares.

  • Major Tom

    “I can’t see how we get to the Moon in 11 years if we cancel Ares I/V in 2009.”

    Huh?

    Apollo was an 8-year effort to first landing. If technically sound strategies are pursued, there’s no good reason that achieving the same basic goals should take almost 40 percent longer several decades later.

    Of course, Constellation is on anything but sound technical footing these days. Even assuming no more PDR deferements or other delays, Orion isn’t scheduled to make its first, operational, crewed flight to ISS until 2016, and GAO has stated in two different reports that Ares I probably won’t fly until 2017 due to long-lead issues associated with the J-2X upper stage. The schedule issues associated with Ares I and Orion are arguably a greater obstacle than help in getting back to the Moon.

    “if Nasa ditched Ares 1 today, they’d go into RFP hell, contractor lawsuit hell over the next two years.”

    In standard, cost-plus, federal procurement contracts, the government almost always reserves the right to terminate at its convenience.

    FWIW…

  • Anthony Cook

    When Kennedy announced the goal of landing on the moon, some of the elements of what would become the Saturn V (especially the huge F-1 engines) had been under development for three years. Not everything about Apollo started from scratch and was finished in 8 years.

  • Major Tom

    “When Kennedy announced the goal of landing on the moon, some of the elements of what would become the Saturn V (especially the huge F-1 engines) had been under development for three years. Not everything about Apollo started from scratch and was finished in 8 years.”

    No doubt, but that doesn’t change the conclusion. Unlike in 1961, today’s NASA has decades of development and multiple existing vehicles and engines to draw upon. With smart choices that actually leverage existing capabilities, the development should be shorter this time around.

    Again, though, that’s not what Constellation has been doing. Instead, we’re using SRBs in applications they were never designed for, adding segments that create untested SRB configurations, applying SSMEs in applications they were never designed for, ditching the SSMEs when they don’t work, claiming J-2 heritage where it doesn’t exist, etc. — all under the advice of suppossedly independent review boards, one-third of whose votes have turned out to be essentially bought and paid for.

    Apologies for venting, but bleah…

  • richardb

    No need to apologize for venting…..but Apollo was on a budget tsunami and given all the dollars they needed to get Saturn V ready to go. I ask you this, is today’s NASA going to get the same largesse? No, not at all. They will live with their new topline for years to come IMHO.

    Next if they cancel Ares I today, how long will it take to pivot to a new architecture? If they issue stop work now, they’ll have to do a post mortem before Congress on what they screwed up. That won’t be short.
    Then they’ll need to redo their analysis of what they want before issuing an RFP. After all the rap against Griffin is he had pre-conceived notions in favor of ATK. All of this could stretch well into 2010 before contract award. Course this is just for Ares I. What about the redo for Ares V? 2020 won’t be possible for a Moon return. Right now, it looks to me the only way Ares 1 is thrown off the throne is if Ares I-X cartwheels into the Atlantic.

  • Rhyolite

    This is pretty good given that we are in the middle of a major economic crisis and the administration has ambitions plans for energy, heath care, and education. NASAs budget could have been slashed and no one outside of the space community and a handful of congressional districts would have noticed amongst the welter of other news occupying the country’s attention.

    The problem I see is that the resources for VSE have never matched the ambition – at least if it is executed in the traditional NASA / major aerospace contractor way of doing business. It seems likely that the schedule will slide and the costs will overrun.

    The specific inclusion of COTS in the top line budget description is a good thing. It will be interesting to see what the COTS folks can do with a compressed schedule and a little money.

  • [...] non è poco, specialmente come segnale, benché qualcuno abbia fatto notare che la bozza non contiene poi  molti [...]

  • sc220

    All of this could stretch well into 2010 before contract award. Course this is just for Ares I. What about the redo for Ares V? 2020 won’t be possible for a Moon return. Right now, it looks to me the only way Ares 1 is thrown off the throne is if Ares I-X cartwheels into the Atlantic.

    The 2020 goal of returning humans to the Moon is completely arbitrary. It was used only because Bush liked simple, round integers. NASA likes it because it harkens of Kennedy, and they can point to it as a mandate. But in reality, there is nothing significant about it. Obama is free to use any date he wants.

    The only true schedule driver is the Gap. Hardly anyone wants to extend Shuttle longer than it needs to, so the motivation for retirement is strong. Taking a pause on Ares to do a serious, thorough EXTERNAL reassessment of a Shuttle replacement is a wise idea. Otherwise, we could get stuck with another costly and perhaps less safe ETO alternative for U.S. astronauts for the next 30 years.

  • The 2020 goal of returning humans to the Moon is completely arbitrary. It was used only because Bush liked simple, round integers.

    For once, could we dispense with the gratuitous Bush bashing? He’s not even president any more, yet the derangement persists.

    a) There is a general tendency of humans to like round numbers — it’s not just a character defect of the former Chimp-in-Chief, and b) “Bush” didn’t come up with the plan — White House staff did.

  • Doug Lassiter

    The 2020 goal of returning humans to the Moon is completely arbitrary. It was used only because Bush liked simple, round integers.

    For once, could we dispense with the gratuitous Bush bashing? He’s not even president any more, yet the derangement persists.

    Not obvious that any “bashing” is intended, so accusations of derangement are misplaced. As you say, we all like simple round integers, and President Kennedy did as well when he challenged the nation to get to the Moon before the end of the decade. Bush understood that it was easier to draw lines in the sand that way rather than, say, challenging us to get back to the Moon before October 23, 2021.

    But the problem was that semi-arbitrary goals like this are serviceable when cash flows freely. That sure was the case for Apollo, and even then we succeeded without a lot of extra time. Perhaps there was some expectation that it would flow freely for Constellation, even though the administration was saying “go as you can pay” out of the other side of their mouths.

    I do think it is significant that we are now “working towards” being back on the Moon by 2020. That’s a bit different than a “goal”. It’s a lot easier to back off on “working towards” than it is to give up a national goal.

  • Perhaps there was some expectation that it would flow freely for Constellation

    There certainly shouldn’t have been. A key feature, well discussed, of the VSE was that NASA would have to work within the sandpile.

  • [...] of reporters today, asking him why he decided to keep the 2010 retirement date for the shuttle in his FY2010 budget outline. Obama’s response is a little disjointed (not clear if he was stumbling through his comments [...]

  • [...] and the Obama Administration—which stated in its budget outline released last month that it still plans to retire the shuttle in 2010—don’t see eye to eye on space [...]

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>