Status Report

AIP FYI #15: FY 2003 Budget Request for NASA

By SpaceRef Editor
February 11, 2002
Filed under , ,

NASA funding would stay relatively flat under President Bush’s FY
2003 budget request, increasing 0.7 percent to $15.0 billion.
Space Science would receive a substantial increase of 19.1
percent, although much of that increase is due to the transfer
into Space Science of several spacecraft operations items.
Biological and Physical Research would receive a 2.7 percent
increase, while Earth Science would remain virtually unchanged,
with a 0.2 percent increase. Human Space Flight funding would
fall by 10.2 percent.

After just four weeks on the job, new NASA Administrator Sean
O’Keefe gave a low-key but knowledgeable February 4 briefing on
the agency’s budget, noting that this request would
“emphasize…the fundamentals” with a series of targeted
priorities. A management and budget expert, O’Keefe is expected
to bring improved management and cost controls to the agency, and
particularly to the troubled International Space Station. As
Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget last year,
O’Keefe was influential in urging NASA adopt the recommendations
of the Young Task Force (see FYIs #135 and 136, 2001) to
undertake management reforms and focus space station funding on
finishing the “core complete” configuration. The agency’s budget
documents state that “the fiscal 2003 budget proposal [for the
station] represents a restrained fiscal approach” that will set
the program “back on a course of fiscal accountability.”

SPACE SCIENCE REQUEST: Up 19.1 percent to $3,414.3 million

While the requested increase for Space Science may look large,
much of it is due to a transfer of programs from elsewhere within
the NASA budget. In fact, a NASA budget documents states, “a
large part (over $200 million) of the apparent increase…is not
an increase at all, but is due to the transfer of funding and
responsibility for two critical components of Space Science
spacecraft operations (the Deep Space Network, and Mission
Services for Space Science missions) from the Office of Space

A new item in the FY 2003 request (within Technology Programs) is
the Nuclear Systems Initiative, intended to reduce spacecraft
travel time and make possible new planetary exploration
initiatives. The request includes $46.5 million for nuclear
electric propulsion and $79.0 million for nuclear electrical
power-generation systems. Another new program, the New Frontiers
program, according to NASA, “is a revamping of the Outer Planets
missions program” to support frequent, mid-sized planetary
missions, at an FY 2003 request of $15.0 million.

Major ongoing programs that would receive increases include the
Mars Exploration Program (to $453.6 million), the Stratospheric
Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) (to $46.9 million),
and the Explorer Program (to $135.1 million). Also receiving
increases would be Mission Operations (to $385.2 million),
Technology Programs (to $703.9 million), and Research Programs
(to $709.6 million).

Decreases are planned for the Hubble Space Telescope (down to
$138.9 million, with a servicing mission this month), the Space
Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF ), (down to $47.4 million,
with launch delayed until at least December 2002), and Gravity
Probe B (down to $19.7 million, with launch in October). Funding
for the Discovery Program would decline to $207.7 million. No FY
2003 funding is requested for the New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt
mission, nor for the Europa Orbiter mission.

EARTH SCIENCE REQUEST: Up 0.2 percent to $1,628.4 million

Funding for the Earth Observing System (EOS) would grow to $410.9
million, while Earth Explorers funding would decline to $71.2
million. Research and Technology, including Earth Science
Program Science, would decline slightly to $506.3 million. The
EOS Data Information System (EOSDIS) operations requirements have
been transferred to Mission Operations for FY 2003, and the total
Mission Operations request is $247.8 million. EOSDIS development
would receive $74.3 million.

In its budget documents, the agency states, “The Administration
is conducting a review of the interagency U.S. Global Change
Research Program (USGCRP) to determine the best government-wide
approach to climate change research. It would not be prudent for
NASA to pursue development of another major new Earth Science
mission until the Administration has completed this review.”


Programs that would see increases include Bioastronautics
Research (to $113.0 million, Fundamental Space Biology (to $56.0
million), and Physical Sciences Research (to $134.1 million).
The International Space Station Research Capability Program would
drop to $347.2 million. New initiatives in the FY 2003 request
include $11.2 million within Fundamental Space Biology for the
Generations project to study how life adapts and evolves in
space, and $10.1 million for the interdisciplinary Space
Radiation initiative (spanning the Bioastronautics, Physical
Sciences, and Fundamental Space Biology programs) to investigate
health-related space-radiation issues.

HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT: Down 10.2 percent to $6,130.9 million

The International Space Station would see a 13.3 percent
decrease, to $1,492.1 million. The budget documents note that
“last year, an independent task force of research, management and
financial experts, led by Thomas Young, provided NASA with a
number of recommendations to restore and maintain fiscal
responsibility and ensure the fundamental soundness” of the
program. “NASA is acting upon these recommendations…. By this
spring the program will have a clearly defined set of cost
requirements so that by fall, a true understanding of total
program costs can be achieved. An initiative that will clearly
redefine research priorities is also underway. The outcomes of
these actions will largely determine the end-state requirements”
of the station.

ACADEMIC PROGRAMS: Down 36.8 percent to $143.7 million

It appears that the requested decrease is partly due to
elimination of congressional earmarks. Education Programs would
receive $61.6 million, and Minority University Research and
Education would receive $82.1 million.


Audrey T. Leath

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094


SpaceRef staff editor.