Status Report

AIP FYI: Update on NASA Appropriations; Language on Space Station Overruns

By SpaceRef Editor
August 14, 2001
Filed under , ,

Before leaving for August recess, both the House and Senate
passed their versions of the FY 2002 VA/HUD appropriations bill.
While FYIs #88 and #95 provided early indications of what the
House and Senate VA/HUD subcommittees recommended with respect to
NASA funding, some changes were made to the House version before
passage. In particular, the House bill would provide $1,516.7
million for Earth Sciences, an increase of $1.8 million above the
request. Additionally, $25.0 million was added to space station
research within Biological and Physical Research (BPR), bringing
the total recommended level for BPR to $710.9 million, and
raising the total recommended NASA budget to $14,951.4 million in
the House bill. The total Senate recommendation for NASA was
$14,561.4 million. When Congress returns after Labor Day,
conferees will meet to reach agreement on a final version of the

Accompanying each version of the bill is a committee report.
Both House and Senate reports include extensive language on the
Administration’s proposal to handle projected space station cost
overruns by redirecting funds from a crew return vehicle,
habitation and propulsion modules, and research capacity. This
would affect the number of permanent crew and the amount of
human-tended research that could be done on board the station.
Below is selected text on this issue, from the House and Senate
committee reports:

HOUSE REPORT (H. Rpt. 107-159):

“The Committee shares the concerns expressed in the budget
request with regard to the cost increases in the International
Space Station [ISS] program. The cost increases which have come
to light in the past few months are disturbing and suggest an
underlying problem with the management and execution of the
program…. The Committee is trying to find the answers to many
basic questions, such as the exact size of the cost increase,
what caused the increases, what lapses in oversight occurred and
what actions are necessary to ensure they will not recur, and to
what extent previously noted concerns were not addressed. In an
attempt to fully understand the nature of the problem, the
Committee has initiated an investigation which will serve to
answer many of these questions and provide the Committee and the
Congress with the information it needs to make the best possible
decisions regarding the future of the program. The Committee has
taken this approach because changes to the ISS program proposed
as part of the budget request, if endorsed without question,
would lead the program down a path which would significantly
alter the goals and accomplishments of the ISS.

“The Committee believes that the key problem with the proposed
budget is that it deletes the capability of the ISS to support a
permanent crew of six or seven persons and causes a scaled-down
research program. This result comes from the recommendation in
the budget request to delete development of the seven-person crew
return vehicle which would replace the three-person Soyuz
capsule, and the deletion of the habitation module. In addition,
the budget proposal included a significant reduction of funding
for the research segment of the ISS program which would further
undermine the basic reason for building the station, the
achievement of world-class science. The Committee is not able or
prepared to reverse all the actions proposed in the budget
request, nor is the Committee prepared to endorse the actions
proposed in the budget at this time. Instead, the Committee has
included in its recommendations a series of actions which will
elicit more complete information and retain options which will
allow the Congress to make an informed decision as part of the
fiscal year 2003 authorization and appropriations process.

“Crew Return Vehicle- The Committee recommendation includes
$275,000,000 for the development of a crew return vehicle, with
capacity for no less than 6 persons, for use with the
international space station…. [T]he Committee does not
anticipate providing additional funds for this purpose unless it
is made clear that the Administration and the international
partners are committed to the International Space Station as a
research facility. For this reason, the language included in the
bill would rescind the $275,000,000 unless the Administration
requests at least $200,000,000 for the crew return vehicle in the
fiscal year 2003 NASA budget request. In addition, the
recommendation fences the availability of the $275,000,000
provided until August 1, 2002. By March 1, 2002, the President
shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and
Senate a comprehensive plan that meets the following terms and
conditions: First, a clear and unambiguous statement on the role
of research in the International Space Station program. Second,
a detailed outline of the efforts being pursued to provide
habitation facilities for a full-time crew of no less than six
persons…. Third, the anticipated costs of the crew return
vehicle program by fiscal year…. Fourth, the relative priority
of the crew return vehicle development program in the context of
the International Space Station. The Committee does not intend
to provide any additional funds or approve the release of any of
the $275,000,000 provided in this bill, until all conditions are
fully satisfied.

“Research- The Congress has always supported the International
Space Station because of the promised world-class research the
station was expected to generate. The Committee is concerned that
the proposed answer for the cost increases in the station would
place that research goal in jeopardy by undermining the
development of a cadre of ground-based research efforts leading
to eventual flight and by scaling back the facilities on-board
the station. The Committee recommendation includes moving the
research program out of the Human Space Flight account in order
to insulate it more effectively from the ramifications of future
cost growth in the hardware segments of the station. The amount
of funding moved is $283,600,000…. The Committee is concerned
that this amount may not be adequate and as a short-term measure
has added $35,000,000 which is to be used to augment the Fluids
and Combustion Facility Integrated Rack. The Committee directs
NASA to withhold any final determination of the research program
which will be achieved on the ISS until the Congress has made a
final determination on the permanent crew size of the station.
Until that time, NASA is directed to develop an interim research
plan which protects the option to return to the research program
envisioned as part of the ISS prior to the latest cost

SENATE REPORT (S. Rpt. 107-43):

“The Committee is deeply troubled by the latest major cost
overrun on the International Space Station program. The Committee
appreciates the complexity of this program…. However, the
Committee has lost confidence in the program’s ability to
responsibly manage the budget and avert the type of crisis that
the program has created. In February 2001, the program reported a
stunning $4,000,000,000 overrun over 5 years. Then…the
Committee learned in June 2001 that the overrun increased by
another $800,000,000, bringing the total overrun to
$4,800,000,000. This represents a stunning 114 percent overrun
for the development and operations of the program…. Currently,
even after proposing to eliminate hardware to support more than
three crew members and cutting research equipment by
$1,000,000,000, the program still reports it is $500,000,000
short in fiscal year 2004 through fiscal year 2006.

“The Committee is deeply concerned that this mismanagement is not
only a threat to the completion of Station, but represents a
grave risk to other important programs within the agency. The
Committee will not accept any proposal that seeks to fund Station
cost growth through offsets taken from other NASA Enterprises….

“Despite this fiscal mismanagement, the Committee is committed to
completing a Space Station; one that is capable of supporting
world-class research. The Committee supports the Administration’s
approach to reining in Station cost growth, reforming program
management to avoid cost overruns in the future, and creating an
independent panel to validate the budget estimates and management

“…[I]n order to ensure world-class research aboard Station, the
Committee: (1) adds $50,000,000 to NASA’s $283,600,000 request
for Station research to increase funding for life and
micro-gravity research; (2) transfers the $333,600,000 Station
research budget, which includes the $50,000,000 increase for
research, from the Human Space Flight appropriation account to
the Science, Aeronautics, and Technology appropriation account;
(3) places Station research under the management of the Office of
Biological and Physical Research (OBPR); (4) directs OBPR to
rebalance funding, as appropriate, between ground and flight
activities while minimizing funds for lower priority supporting
activities; (5) directs NASA to award during fiscal year 2002 one
or more definition studies for a non-government organization to
manage the Station research program; and (6) provides bill
language that limits transfer authority into the Science,
Aeronautics, and Technology (SAT) account; no funds may be
transferred from the SAT account to the Human Space Flight

“Finally, in order to ensure adequate crew time for Station
research, the Committee directs NASA to create a special task
group, with members independent of the Space Station program and
reporting directly to the NASA Administrator, that will develop
and assess low cost options for enhancing crew time for Station
research above the 20 hours per week projected for a three-person
crew, particularly in the post-2005 time frame. No option should
cost NASA more than $300,000,000 in aggregate from fiscal year
2003 through fiscal year 2007. Options should include operational
approaches that allow the three crew members to spend more time
on research; extended Shuttle visits that allow the Shuttle crew
of five to seven astronauts to spend more time aboard Station;
and opportunities with the international partners…that allow
additional full time crew members above the three planned. In
particular, extended Shuttle visits may allow additional
habitation space for increased science research while providing
crew return capability.”


Audrey T. Leath

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094


SpaceRef staff editor.