Status Report

AIP FYI #160: NASA FY04 Conference Report: Space Flight Capabilities

By SpaceRef Editor
December 11, 2003
Filed under , ,

As reported in FYI #159, the House has passed H.R. 2673, an omnibus
spending measure that contains all the remaining FY 2004
appropriations bills. The Senate does not plan to take up the
measure until January. Below are details on the funding
recommendations and associated conference report language for NASA’s
Space Flight Capabilities account. FYI #159 provided information on
the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account.

Because of recent changes made to NASA programs, prior-year
across-the-board reductions, and transfer of funds across programs,
it is virtually impossible to make an apples-to-apples comparison of
FY 2004 funding with the FY 2003 levels. Numbers have not always
appeared consistent from year to year, or from request to House to
Senate within the year. Additionally, the FY 2004 amounts must be
adjusted by a 0.59% reduction applied elsewhere in the conference
report. The adjusted FY 2004 appropriation is provided below for
the Space Flight Capabilities account, followed by selected
quotations from the FY 2004 conference report (H. Rept. 108-401).
Selections from the conference report HAVE NOT been adjusted to
reflect the across-the-board reductions.

SPACE FLIGHT CAPABILITIES: $7,467.8 million (adjusted). This is a
$1,286.9 million (20.8%) increase over the FY 2003 appropriation of
$6,180.9 million, and a $314.2 million (4.0%) decrease from the FY
2004 request of $7,782.0 million.

The conference report “Specifies that $15,000,000 of the amount
provided for the Space Shuttle Life Extension Program shall be for
development and independent assessment of concepts to increase crew
survivability for crew sizes of 4 to 7 as proposed by the House. The
conferees have not included the House language which would have
specified these efforts should result in increased survivability by
a factor of 20. Deletes the Senate language which would have
specified $3,986,000,000 for activities related to the Space Shuttle
and prohibited transfer of any of these funds to other programs or
activities. Deletes Senate language which would have capped
International Space Station costs at $1,507,000,000. Retains House
language which allows for the transfer of funds from this account to
the science, aeronautics, and exploration account in accordance with
section 312(b) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.”

ISS COST CAP: “The amount provided…includes a reduction of
$200,000,000 from the International Space Station request [$1,707.0
million] and a reduction of $70,000,000 from the Space Launch
Initiative budget request…. The conferees have not included a
cost cap on the International Space Station as proposed by the
Senate but do agree that there are substantial cost reductions
associated with the program as a result of shuttle operations being
suspended and agree that NASA needs to be more aggressive in
controlling costs associated with reduced program activity.”

AEROSPACE SAFETY PANEL: “The conferees are in agreement that the new
charter of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel addresses the
concerns expressed in the Senate report and will satisfy the desire
of the conferees to receive timely reports that assess the shuttle
program in terms of safety, upgrades, operations, and overall

ISS CORE COMPLETE: “Upon the resumption of shuttle flights to the
International Space Station, the conferees direct NASA to develop
and forward to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and
Senate a plan detailing the steps necessary to reach U.S. Core
Complete, as well as the outyear costs associated with this plan.”

ORBITAL SPACE PLANE: “The conferees…direct NASA to expand the
membership of the [Orbital Space Plane External Program Assessment
Team] to include individuals that have extensive non-NASA experience
in program management to ensure necessary independence from the
Space Launch Initiative program management…. The Orbital Space
Plane (OSP) program is expected to represent a significant
investment by the American taxpayers if it is carried out to
completion. It is therefore necessary that NASA manage this program
unlike any other program it has ever executed or tried to execute in
the past. The conferees believe that first and foremost, NASA must
heed all the findings and recommendations of the International Space
Station Management and Cost Evaluation report as well as the CAIB
report. It does not appear from materials provided to the Congress
thus far that this is the case.”

NEXT GENERATION LAUNCH TECHNOLOGY: “The conferees agree with the
Senate direction that NASA report by January 31, 2004, on the
outyear costs for each project within the Next Generation Launch
Technology program, the criteria being used to select technologies
for investment, and the metrics used to determine whether projects
within the program are progressing or should be discontinued.”

ISS LOGISTICS: “The conferees understand that NASA is currently
assessing complementary and/or replacement logistics support to and
from the International Space Station (ISS). This assessment
encompasses utilization of Progress, Automated Transfer Vehicle
(ATV), H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), Alternative Access to Space
(AAS) concepts, Autonomous Shuttle, and possibly other cargo
capability concepts. The AAS studies have an anticipated completion
date of January 2004 to be followed by a thorough review of all the
options by NASA. Additionally, the conferees understand that the
administration is reviewing overall U.S. space exploration goals,
including new cargo capability, as part of the fiscal year 2005
budget process. The conferees direct the administration to report
back to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate
with the Agency’s plan on ISS re-supply services by June 1, 2004.”

SHUTTLE LIFE EXTENSION: “The conferees are concerned that in its
desire to return the shuttle to full operations, NASA may damage
seriously the integrity of the Shuttle Life Extension Program
(SLEP). The conferees believe that the process that NASA has put in
place for the SLEP will correctly identify cost effective and
necessary modifications, but NASA must still demonstrate the resolve
to execute properly the program by requesting adequate budget
resources and devoting management attention to the effort.”

with the Senate directive for NASA to provide a comprehensive plan
that will respond to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board
report as well as address other staffing, systemic and program
shortcomings in NASA programs. The plan should include an
assessment of any proposed investments that NASA considers critical
to the reform of the agency and the success of its missions. The
conferees expect the plan to include a 10-year funding profile for
implementing the proposed reforms with benchmarks that are designed
to ensure a safe return to flight.”


Audrey T. Leath

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094


SpaceRef staff editor.