Press Release

House Science Committee Offers Views and Recommendations on President’s FY05 budget request (NASA Portions)

By SpaceRef Editor
March 4, 2004
Filed under , ,

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Science Committee publicly released its recommendations, or “Views and Estimates,” on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 budget. 

“As the House and Senate begin consideration of the President’s FY05 budget request, there is no question that a great deal of debate will revolve around the budget deficit and its impact on the long-term economic health of the Nation,” said the Committee.   “As these discussions move forward, the Science Committee urges Congress to recognize the importance and contributions of science and technology to productivity and economic growth-and consequently-fiscal security.  Indeed, nothing benefits federal revenues over the long-term as much as accelerated economic growth, and nothing fuels long-term growth more than science and technology.”

The Views and Estimates can be found on the Science Committee website at


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The budget request provides $16.244 billion for NASA in FY05, an increase of 5.6
percent, by far the largest percentage increase for any civilian science agency. The
budget is shaped by the President’s proposed space exploration initiative and constitutes,
in many respects, a first down payment on the President’s proposal to send humans back
to the moon and eventually on to Mars “and beyond.”

The Committee has just begun holding hearings on the President’s initiative and does not
yet have a position on it. Moreover, the Committee’s evaluation of the proposed
initiative has already highlighted many unanswered questions about its costs. As a result,
the Committee cannot yet evaluate whether NASA’s overall FY 05 budget request is
appropriate, or too high or too low. Instead, in this document, the Committee will note
some of the areas of concern in the FY 05 budget proposal, and in the budget that has
been laid out for the four ensuing fiscal years. These comments are also informed by a
NASA chart that projects spending out to 2020, by which time humans will have returned
to the moon if the initiative unfolds as planned.

Under the President’s plan, the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs
remain the centerpieces of NASA’s human spaceflight program for the near term. Nearly
half of NASA’s FY05 budget is dedicated to these two programs.

It is unclear whether the FY05 budget for the Space Shuttle is adequate to return to flight.
Recently, NASA announced that the Shuttle would not resume flying before March 2005
– a year later than NASA’s original projections and about five months later than the most
recent estimate. The Committee is pleased that NASA is not rushing the return to flight.
But the delays highlight the inherent uncertainty about what tasks will need to be
completed to return to flight and what expenses those tasks will entail.

The understandable delays in returning to flight necessarily raise concerns about whether
NASA’s schedule for completing construction of the Space Station are overly optimistic.
The President’s initiative assumes that Station construction will be completed around
2010, freeing up funds for other endeavors and avoiding an extremely costly
recertification of the Shuttle. (The Columbia Accident Investigation Board said the
Shuttle should not be flown after 2010 unless it were recertified.)

The Committee is also unable to evaluate the proposed $1.1 billion FY05 budget for
Biological and Physical Research, most of which would be spent on the Space Station.
Under the President’s initiative, NASA is to reorient the Station research program to
focus on the biological research needed to overcome the impediments that space presents
to astronauts’ long-term survival. NASA has just begun to develop that new research
program, so it is impossible to know what it should cost.

The Committee also needs additional information to evaluate the $428 million FY05
budget request for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), the new vehicle NASA intends
to design to transport humans on missions to the Space Station, the moon and beyond.
The FY05 funding is the first installment on a development project that NASA estimates
will cost $6.6 billion between FY05 and FY09 and another $8.4 billion by the time the
CEV is ready to achieve its first flight with humans on-board in 2014.

NASA’s proposed FY05 budget for Space Science is $4.1 billion, an increase of
approximately 5 percent over FY04 levels. As part of the President’s initiative, the FY05
budget for Space Science includes a new robotic program for lunar exploration. The
FY05 budget also reflects the transfer of a major portion of Project Prometheus out of
Space Science and into the new Exploration Systems account.

While the budget for Space Science appears to be adequate, the Committee is still
reviewing the projects that will be deferred or eliminated to carry out the President’s
proposal. Of particular interest is the Joint Dark Energy Mission, which was to have
been funded by NASA and DOE. The Committee is also concerned with NASA’s
decision to cancel future Hubble servicing missions. Any decision to reinstate Hubble
servicing missions would likely require additional funding in the FY05 budget.

NASA’s proposed FY05 budget for Earth Science is $1.4 billion, a decrease of nearly 3
percent from FY04 levels. The Committee believes that the budget request for these
programs is inadequate to meet the pressing needs for better satellite data. The cuts,
which are designed to help fund the exploration initiative, seem ill-timed when the
Administration has announced a significant new global change research plan.

The Committee is also troubled by the limited funding the budget provides for NASA’s
Aeronautics program. The budget cuts the program by nearly 3 percent, down to less
than $919 million for FY05. Aeronautics research has long been level funded, and it is
especially disadvantaged as NASA’s overhead costs of operating infrastructure fall
disproportionately on this program.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The Committee continues to be disappointed with the tepid support for Federal Aviation
Administration research and development activities. The budget request of $237.4
million represents a slight decrease from FY04 enacted levels, and is significantly less
than the $356.2 million authorized by the Vision 100 – Century of Aviation
Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176), signed by the President on December 12, 2003.
The FAA, together with other federal departments and agencies, is embarking on an
extensive, long-term project to develop a next generation air traffic management system.
The Committee believes this activity, coupled with ongoing research, demands greater

The FY05 request for the FAA’s Office of the Associate Administrator for Commercial
Space Transportation (AST) is $11.9 million. The Committee is optimistic that eventual
passage of legislation (H.R. 3752) authorizing AST to develop regulations for
commercial human space flight will result in the development of a robust and profitable
new industry. The Committee, however, remains concerned that AST is continuing to
develop burdensome and costly launch regulations that will undermine the
competitiveness of the existing U.S. expendable launch industry.

Department of Commerce—Office of Space Commercialization

The Committee urges continued support for this Office. The Office has played a useful
role in promoting the commercial space industry and in removing unnecessary
impediments to its development. The Office needs to take a stronger role in legal and
policy discussions within the government and be more aggressive in assisting U.S.
commercial space providers in their efforts to conduct business with the government.

SpaceRef staff editor.