Here’s the breakdown of the final conference report funding for NASA compared to the President’s original budget request (PBR) and the versions of the budget passed by the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) and Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC):
A few brief highlights from the report language, passed along from a reader:
- The final bill puts a cost cap of $8 billion on the development of the James Webb Space Telescope, stating that any increase above that will “be treated according to procedures established for projects in 30 percent breach of their lifecycle cost estimates.” It directs GAO to “continually assess the program”, reporting to House and Senate appropriators on adherence to that cap and the program’s technical status.
- The $575 million provided for Space Technology should be “prioritized toward the continuation of ongoing programs and activities”, with no less than $25 million for satellite servicing in particular (which will be managed by the HEO mission directorate, which gets a separate $50 million for this).
- The bill, citing a need to “to better articulate a set of specific, scientifically meritorious exploration goals”, directs NASA to develop “a set of science-based exploration goals” for its human space exploration program, including identification of a “target destination or destinations” and the role of international collaboration. The report on this topic is due 180 days after enactment.
- Commercial crew, as previously noted here, gets $406 million in the bill, $100 million of which is set aside until certain acquisition milestones for the human exploration program are achieved. The report notes that NASA’s plans for the program have assumed much higher funding levels than what Congress is provided, and thus “NASA is directed to work expeditiously to alter its management and acquisition strategy for the program as necessary to make the best use of available resources”. This approach, the report adds, could include “an accelerated down-select process that would concentrate and maximize the impact of each appropriated dollar.”