Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee drafted
an FY 2002 VA-HUD appropriations bill (S. 1216) that would provide a
modest budget increase for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). The Senate would provide NASA with $14.6 billion in FY 2002,
$308 million or 2.2 percent more than FY 2001. This would be $50 million
more than the Administration's request of $14.5 billion. In the Senate
plan, NASA's R&D funding would rise 0.4 percent to $10.0
billion. This amount would be the same as the request, but the Senate
would shift nearly $500 million in R&D funds from the International
Space Station to other NASA R&D programs (see Table).
The Senate bill contains harsh words for NASA on its management of the
Space Station, and expresses alarm at continuing cost overruns in the
The Senate FY 2002 VA-HUD bill would provide $84 billion
for discretionary programs. The bill funds science agencies including
the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA,
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),
and non-R&D programs for veterans and housing. The President requested
$83 billion for the bill's programs, and thus the Senate had more money
to allocate for science programs than the request. The House version
of the bill is expected to total $85 billion (details of House appropriations
for NASA will be available shortly).
Two-thirds of the NASA budget, which excludes the Space
Shuttle program and its associated costs, is classified as R&D.
NASA's R&D would total $10.0 billion in the Senate plan, a slight
0.4 percent or $41 million above FY 2001 and the same as the request.
Because the Space Shuttle program would receive a large increase, the
total NASA budget of $14.6 billion would show a higher increase (up
The troubled International Space Station is
now projected to run $4.8 billion over budget over the next five years,
and the Senate language accompanying the VA-HUD bill expresses dismay
over NASA's management of Station costs, and states that continuing
cost overruns are "a grave risk to other important programs within
the agency." by endangering funding for NASA's other R&D programs.
Despite the projected cost overruns, the Senate would cut the Space
Station budget by $458 million or 21.7 percent over FY 2001, for a total
of $1.7 billion instead of current-year funding of $2.1 billion. Most
of the cut, however, would be due to the transfer of Space Station research
to the Biological and Physical Research account; the FY 2002 Senate
appropriation for life and microgravity research aboard the Station
would be $334 million, up $50 million from the request but well below
the FY 2001 funding level of $457 million. Alarmed at NASA's past practice
of siphoning off money from the research account to pay for cost overruns
in construction, the Senate bill would place the Office of Biological
and Physical Research in charge of the Station research program and
would forbid NASA from transferring any Station research funds out of
the office. In addition, the Senate would transfer $50 million out of
the Station to the Space Shuttle, and would make additional cuts to
the Space Station account.
In another move to contain costs, the Senate VA-HUD
bill caps Space Station costs at $6.7 billion over FY 2002-2006 and
would write these limits into law. In a notable omission, the Senate
bill would not provide funding for a crew return vehicle (CRV) that
would be used as an emergency escape vehicle for the Station crew. The
House is considering $275 million for a CRV; without this six or seven-person
vehicle, Station crews would be limited to three, drastically reducing
the amount of research that can be done on the Station to an estimated
20 person-hours a week.
The Science, Aeronautics, and Technology (SAT)
account, which funds nearly all of NASA's R&D not related to the
Space Station, would receive $7.7 billion, 8.5 percent or $603 million
above the request. More than half of the increase would be due to the
transfer of Space Station research to Biological and Physical Research
(BPR). BPR, formerly known as Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications,
would receive $693 million for a 82.9 percent increase. Taking out the
Space Station research, however, would leave $360 million, nearly the
same as the request and below the FY 2001 funding level. This program
funds ground and space-based research to advance the safety and health
of astronauts in space, but covers investigations on a variety of life,
medical, and microgravity sciences research topics. In addition to the
transfer, the Senate bill contains $113 million in congressional earmarks
for R&D and other projects, leaving only a modest increase for core
Within SAT, Space Science would receive $2.8
billion, a 4.8 percent increase but $35 million short of the request.
The Senate would make small adjustments to the NASA request, including
additional funds for the "Living with a Star" initiative,
a reorganized future outer planets program built around the Europa Orbiter
program, and a reorganized Pluto program. The Senate would go along
with NASA's requested steep cuts to the Earth Science program, providing
$1.6 billion, $41 million more than the request but $161 million short
of the FY 2001 funding level.
The Aero-Space Technology program would rise
11.0 percent or $244 million in the Senate plan to $2.5 billion. Much
of the increase would be due to a boost from $272 million in FY 2001
to $460 million in FY 2002 for the Space Launch Initiative, which funds
research and development efforts for reusable launch vehicle technology.
The Senate appropriation would be $15 million less than the request.
There would also be $32 million for unrequested congressional earmarks.
The Academic Programs appropriation of $211
million would be a substantial 59.3 percent or $79 million increase
over FY 2001 because the Senate bill contains 27 congressionally designated
projects totaling $53 million. Although all programs in this account
are classified as R&D, the congressionally designated projects include
funds for planetariums, science museums, education center, and even
The House and Senate versions of the VA-HUD bill are
due for floor debate and approval before the August congressional recess.
A House-Senate conference committee to produce the final version of
the bill is not expected to meet until September.
- July 25, 2001
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005