Congress, NASA, Other

House-Senate agreement would give NASA $17.8 billion in 2012

The House Appropriations Committee announced Monday night that House and Senate negotiators had reached agreement on a conference report on the so-called “minibus” appropriations bill that combines three separate bills, including the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) bill. The full conference report has not be published yet, but the committee did provide a “detailed summary” of the report.

For NASA, conferees agreed to a $17.8 billion budget for NASA, down from the $18.7 requested by the administration from 2012 and the $18.5 billion provided in 2011. That amount, though, is much closer to the Senate version, which provided $17.9 billion, compared to the House version’s $16.8 billion. Highlights from the conference report summary:

  • $3.8 billion for Space Exploration, which is $30 million below last year. This includes funding above the request for NASA to meet Congressionally mandated program deadlines for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System.
  • $4.2 billion for Space Operations, which is $1.3 billion below last year’s level. The agreement continues the closeout of the Space Shuttle program for a savings of more than $1 billion.
  • $5.1 billion for NASA Science programs, which is $155 million above last year’s level. The agreement accommodates cost growth in the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) by making commensurate reductions in other programs, and institutes several new oversight measures for JWST’s continuing development.
  • Language prohibiting NASA or the Office of Science and Technology Policy from engaging in bilateral activities with China unless authorized by Congress.

The summary doesn’t specify how much funding JWST gets, but any funding would be a victory over the House version, which provided no money for the space telescope program that has experienced serious cost overruns and schedule delays. The document is also silent on commercial crew (the Senate offered $500 million and the House $312 million, both below the administration’s request of $850 million) and space technology (both the Senate and House significantly cut the requested $1.02 billion).

(Update: according to one source, the House and Senate split the difference on commercial crew, giving it $406 million. If true, this could have implications for the future of the program, since NASA officials had warned that not fully funding the program would lead to delays and possibly revisiting their procurement plans for the next phase of the program.)

Separately, the conference report provides $924 million for NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System, the weather satellite program that is the successor to the cancelled NPOESS. The administration had requested $1.07 billion for the program and warned last month that without “sufficient” funding the nation “faces a significant risk of a gap in satellite coverage that will result in degraded weather forecasts”.

The conference report also includes funding for the FAA, but the summary does not discuss funding for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Both the House and Senate had significantly cut the administration’s request of $25 million for the office in FY12.

28 comments to House-Senate agreement would give NASA $17.8 billion in 2012

  • Robert G. Oler

    all of this of course has to play out amidst the super committee…in a few days…RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    This budget represents an epic fail on the part of commercial space advocates. They made some very crucial mistakes.

    Mistake 1: Supporting the Obama approach to commercial space despite the fact that it was dependent on government subsidies and a government market. There was insufficient attention to enabling private markets for commercial space.

    Mistake 2: Trying to make the case for the commercial crew program by insulting the very people who were expected to dole out the money for it. I suspect Elon Musk must regret now comparing House members to the Soviet Politburo for being skeptical of the plan.

    Mistake 3: Going after the space exploration program to raid it for extra funding. This caused supporters of BEO exploration to dig in their heels and even, in some cases, oppose commercial crew. This turned the original dynamic of commercial space and space exploration supporting each other on their head.

    Mistake 4: Using heated rhetoric such as “pork” and “crony capitalism” where it was inappropriate.

    Mistake 5: Trying to get the SLS heavy lifter canceled by claiming that space based fuel depots could support a space exploration program when the Augustine Committee, among others, said that it can’t.

    In short, the cause of commercial space has suffered a serious set back, mainly because of the gross incompetence and extremism of commercial space advocates,

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    goofy in the end there will be no SLS and there will be commercial space; even though you have forgotten what you use to support.

    SLS wont last the next few months. Remember when you were predicting we would take and garrison Iraq with 50,000 people? You are wrong here as well RGO

  • Jeff,

    Question, this conference report still has to be voted on by both sides, and may still be affected by the results of the SuperCommittee, correct?

    Any idea how soon NASA will know for real what its budget for FY2012 is?

    Just trying to understand what’s going on.

    ~Jon

  • Jim Nobles

    Commercial Crew is advancing just fine. This is just about trying to get the government to spend more money to get what the agency wants sooner rather than later and to have as many potential sources as possible. It’s politics.

    Mr. Whittington said, “In short, the cause of commercial space has suffered a serious set back…”

    That’s a joke. Commercial space is healthier than it has ever been and getting better. How much better and how soon is what the politics is about. Mr. Whittington, I’m sorry, you have a loud voice but in substance you have very little understanding of what is happening here or how it is playing out.

  • Vladislaw

    Mark “the pathological liar” Whittington wrote:

    “This budget represents an epic fail on the part of commercial space advocates. They made some very crucial mistakes.”

    Your post represents an epic fail. Not only did you make crucial mistakes but you repeat your lie on subsidies. This of course is not a mistake but one of your repeated lies. I can not help but notice you have still failed to produce an economist who will call commercial crew funding a subsidy. Until there is an actually service contract to provide services for commercial access for NASA it is impossible to know if it is subsidized yet.

    NASA is buying milestones, that are competively bid at a fixed priced, that will lead to a commercial company creating a domestic service that does not currently exist.

    “Mistake 1: Supporting the Obama approach to commercial space despite the fact that it was dependent on government subsidies”

    Again, Mark never repeats his statement about subsidies where they actually really exist, e.g. the space launch system, that uses fixed fee, cost plus, none competively bid contracts. Talk about supporting pork and crony capitalism. The cronies of Hatch must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    “Mistake 3: Going after the space exploration program to raid it for extra funding. “

    No problem when Griffin was raiding accounts to keep that nightmare pork train constellation funded. When it comes to the real subsidies and crony capitalism, Mark the liar is always silent. 13 billion flushed down the drain and not a peep out of Mark. Mark makes retailers who practice “bait and switch” look like pikers. Mark is a champion at bait and switch with his constant lies about subsidies, pork and crony capitalism and who is really getting them. Where is that accredited economist Mark?

    “Mistake 4: Using heated rhetoric such as “pork” and “crony capitalism” where it was inappropriate”

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black you are the king of bait and switch comments.

    “Mistake 5: Trying to get the SLS heavy lifter canceled by claiming that space based fuel depots could support a space exploration program when the Augustine Committee, among others, said that it can’t.”

    Again Mister bait and switch, the pathological liar, Mark tries to do it again. NASA’s own internal documents show that depots would save 10′s of billions of taxpayers dollars.

    Nice try Mark.

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    This budget represents an epic fail on the part of commercial space advocates. They made some very crucial mistakes.

    You’re using Matt Wiser’s dartboard method of assigning blame – throw out a bunch of guess and hope one sticks. None did.

    The bottom line is that even though some in Congress rail about using Russia for ISS crew transportation, they are doing less than nothing to rectify the situation. In case you didn’t know (which is a distinct possibility), the CCDev program has four companies participating, and only one of them is SpaceX. The other three include longtime NASA contractors Boeing and SNC, so that smashes your allegations right there.

    The primary gravy train a minority in Congress are trying to protect right now is the SLS, and if that means buying more rides from the Russians, so be it. And if that means favoring a government-run solution over a private industry one, so be it too. So much for Republican political principles coming to the rescue.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    : Supporting the Obama approach to commercial space despite the fact that it was dependent on government subsidies and a government market”

    no matter how many times you say things that are lies, that does not make them true. Cain was no rocket scientist and commercial lift and crew are not a subsidy…they are a fee for service. The subsidy is for SLS.

    dont repeat lies RGO

  • common sense

    Slightly of topic but worth reading. I think. Unfortunately we all know most of it. $3.0B for SLS/MPCV. What a waste. The worst being of course that once it has failed the money will be dispersed and not available for use. And then what? Years of unnecessary delay, $B wasted in vain. Go make a case to the public that they should support space then. And if all those who claim the public supports NASA because of HSF are right, there will only be little for them to support.

    Oh well…

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1590

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Mistake 6: Continue to deny reality and to adjust accordingly.

  • Mark,

    It’s worked so well for you over the years, hasn’t it?

    ~Jon

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Mistake 6: Continue to deny reality and to adjust accordingly.”

    and you deal with that in your politics how? RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Jon – I’ve been warning about Obama’s approach to commercial crew for almost two years, Unfortunately the disaster has exceeded my expectations. Meanwhile, space exploration, once slated for destruction, is at least going forward, albeit haltingly. The next president will therefore have an opportunity to set things totally aright.

    It does not give me pleasure to be proven right. Using the Solyndra approach to do commercial crew will have only one outcome. Alas we are faced with that. Hopefully that can be fixed as well by the next president.

  • SpaceMan

    Just wondering how much Mr. Whittington is being paid to continue to ignore reality and who the paymaster(s) might be.

  • It does not give me pleasure to be proven right.

    Well, let’s hope you enjoy being proven wrong, then, because that’s all you’re ever going to get.

    Using the Solyndra approach to do commercial crew will have only one outcome.

    To compare commercial crew to Solyndra is insane, unless you’re pointing out how completely unlike each other they are.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    It does not give me pleasure to be proven right. Using the Solyndra approach to do commercial crew will have only one outcome…

    and you talk about ignoring reality…that is what this statement illustrates.

    you have not been “proven” correct except in your own mind…the one that has Commercial crew and cargo as some sort of subsidy and SLS as well you never explain what that is.

    you are just making things up…seesh RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Sometimes I wonder what universe some people inhabit. The Orion and the SLS got fully funded, as did the JWST. Commercial crew got cut by over half. This is the exact opposite of what my good friends in the Internet Rocketeer Club have been predicting. Commercial space advocates had better learn a little about how to do politics or else they will continue to half to deny the reality of what is happening.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    By the wall, SLS cannot be “crony capitalism” due to the fact that it isn’t capitalism. Building a heavy lifter capable of sending people beyond LEO is on the same level as building an aircraft carrier to strike at enemies of the Republic. Each serves a national need.

  • vulture4

    1. BEO exploration with Constellation/SLS/Orion is dead, because Congress is going ot fund development until they get tired of it, but never the much larger budget needed to even reach, let alone actually colonize the moon and Mars with this technology. John McCain said so in 2004, and it is still true today. Hey, if you can find the money to keep a few hundred people alive on Mars, let us know.

    2. The Constellation lobby would have taken all the money without Musk’s leadership. As it is, he as least has a little. It is usually best in the long run to say what you think.

  • Vladislaw

    Solyndra was given a 500 million loan guarantee so they could build the infrastructure to mass produce an existing product to sell to private consumers. The U.S federal government spent 3 billion on solar, the Chinese spent 38 billion .. we know who won.

    Commercial crew was given 320 million, in competitively bid, fixed priced, milestone based, contracts. No loan guarantees. A federal agency of the United States has been ordered to purchase a service for a domestic commercial transportation product that is currently non-existant. That federal agency is buying the specific milestones they believe are needed to create the transportation product, by commercial firms. The commercial firm has to fund each milestone themselves and only get paid once the milestone is met. No subsidies, no crony capitalism, no cost plus contracts, no elevator clauses, no pork.

    To compare Solyndra to commercial crew would be as insane as someone saying that planet whittington is based in our reality.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    By the wall, SLS cannot be “crony capitalism” due to the fact that it isn’t capitalism. Building a heavy lifter capable of sending people beyond LEO is on the same level as building an aircraft carrier to strike at enemies of the Republic>>

    actually you got both roles wrong. It comes from being a right winger to lont

    A CVN’s role is to keep the peace. For the most part they do it without firing a shot…that is their role. Traditionally only when there has been no alternative to fighting’ that is when they deal with the enemies of The Republic.

    SLS has no mission. There is no payload for it, it is being built to no purpose; it is simply pork designed to funnel money to crony capitalism companies who without it would go, without notice out of business…and to keep people like you who think of the US as some teenager shouting “Team USA” or whatever nutty thing you are doing these days.

    As for fully funded. LOL, you use to follow politics better then this. When the super committee comes in with its cuts or flounders and the random cutting starts…SLS will be the first to go. Watch

    RGO

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Oler, you sound like Mr. Van Driesen in a recent episode of Beavis and Butthead. The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.

    The super committee process is currently falling apart.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Oler, you sound like Mr. Van Driesen in a recent episode of Beavis and Butthead. The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.>>

    goofy

    the purpose of the military in The United States is to deter war. We are not an aggressor nation. We became that during Bush the last when he lied about Iraq and its threat to us, but the military’s role since the founding of The Republic has been to deter war. If you dont know that then you dont understand how we are a special nation.

    No matter if the super committee succeeds or fails there are budget cuts coming. If it succeeds then there are cuts that they have chosen coming if they fail then the law mandates cuts.

    It is that simple…both in current events and history. There is no chance that the super committee will not have cuts and the Congress will decide “OK no cuts at all” …the GOP right wing boxed itself nicely into that one…and one of the first things to go in space funding will be SLS.

    watch. you have been wrong on everything since your notion that we would take Iraq and hold it with 50,000 troops

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Rand…nice piece on The Weekly Standard blog RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ November 15th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Building a heavy lifter capable of sending people beyond LEO is on the same level as building an aircraft carrier to strike at enemies of the Republic. Each serves a national need.

    So you’re saying that NASA’s equivalent of a big truck is the same as force projection and national security? I don’t think you understand what the military does.

    But setting aside your lack of understanding for the military, the SLS is still a rocket looking for a payload and a mission. Other than Apollo 8 redux, there are no SLS-specific missions funded or even planned.

    The SLS is a faith-based initiative, in that people like you have faith that some day there will be a need for at least one SLS rocket. When? No one knows, but when that time comes you’ll be ready to see “told ya so”.

    Meanwhile $Billions will have been spent for people to polish SLS chrome here on Earth instead of on exploring space using existing rockets…

  • Justin Kugler

    All this budget illustrates is the power of entrenched political interests, Whittington. You’re just projecting.

  • josh

    Mark, do you even believe what you say yourself? I doubt it. Otherwise…ouch.

  • We became that during Bush the last when he lied about Iraq and its threat to us

    Bush did not “lie” about Iraq. As you would say, goofy.

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