Status Report

AIP FYI#159: NASA FY04 Conference Report: Science, Aeronautics, Exploration

By SpaceRef Editor
December 11, 2003
Filed under , ,

The omnibus bill that contains all the remaining, unpassed FY 2004
appropriations bills (H.R. 2673) was approved by the House on
December 8. The Senate, however, will not take it up until Congress
returns from the holidays on January 20. This measure incorporates
the VA/HUD/Independent Agencies appropriations bill, which funds
NASA as well as other departments and agencies. This FYI and the
following one will provide details on funding recommendations for
NASA’s Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account (FYI #159) and
Space Flight Capabilities account (FYI #160).

Accompanying the omnibus spending bill is the conference report, H.
Report 108-401. Because of an across-the-board reduction applied
elsewhere in the report, the FY 2004 funding levels must be reduced
by 0.59%. Using this adjustment, it appears that total NASA funding
would drop by less than 1%, to $15,378.0 million. The Space Flight
Capabilities Account was increased over prior-year funding, while
the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account was reduced. The
report does not break out specific funding levels for Space Science,
Earth Science, and Biological and Physical Research.

Because of recent changes to the titles and content of 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. The
adjusted FY 2004 appropriation for the Science, Aeronautics and
Exploration account is provided below, 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.

SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND EXPLORATION: $7,883.1 million (adjusted).
This is a $1,324.7 million (14.4%) decrease from the FY 2003
appropriation of $9,207.7 million, and a $222.1 million (2.9%)
increase over the FY 2004 request of $7,661.0 million.

REDUCTIONS: According to the conference report, “The amount
provided includes the following reductions to the budget request:
$8,000,000 from the Space Interferometer Mission; $20,000,000 from
Project Prometheus; $10,000,000 from the Beyond Einstein program;
and $11,000,000 from the Global Climate Change Research Polarimeter

PROJECT PROMETHEUS: “The conferees share the concern expressed by
the Senate regarding the Project Prometheus program, particularly
uncertainties in the mission design, and the dependence on the new
unproven technologies. For these reasons, the conferees direct NASA
to provide specific program milestones and funding paths for all
elements of Project Prometheus and report progress to the Committees
on Appropriations of the House and Senate on a quarterly basis.”

GRADUATE FELLOWSHIPS: “The conferees are in agreement with the
House direction for NASA to evaluate the level of stipends for its
Graduate Student Research Program and the Earth System Science
Fellowships as well as the House direction for an evaluation on the
merits of expanding its use of graduate fellowships.”

EARTH OBSERVING SYSTEM DATA AND INFORMATION SYSTEM: “The conferees direct NASA to task the [Goddard Space Flight Center] EOSDIS Project Office to develop the initial baseline architecture and information
technology blueprint for the future EOSDIS and expect this activity
to mirror the direction proposed in Senate Report 108-143. The
conferees wish to reiterate that all future earth science enterprise
missions should take full advantage of the existing EOSDIS system
rather than creating individual ‘stove pipe’ ground systems that
will diminish the integrated architecture developed over the last
dozen years.”

LANDSAT: “The conferees are aware that technical problems affecting
the Landsat 7 satellite threaten the nation’s ability to continue
providing land remote sensing data…. To ensure that the U.S.
Government does not experience a loss of remote land sensing
capabilities which would jeopardize the nation’s domestic, foreign
policy and national security interests, the conferees instruct NASA
to immediately begin developing a successor to the Landsat 7
system…[and] instruct NASA, working in conjunction with the United
States Geological Survey, to develop a successor system that may be
implemented in the near term based on the remaining options cited in
the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act.”

NATIONAL POLAR-ORBITING OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL SATELLITE SYSTEM: “The conferees have provided an additional $8,500,000 for the NPOESS Preparatory Project to initiate the mission’s science data system
through the EOSDIS Core System at the Goddard Space Flight
Center…. The conferees believe NASA, through the GSFC-ECS, must
assume responsibility for this critical portion of the NPP to avoid
significant gaps in the utilization of the mission’s data and expect
NASA to subsequently budget for it beyond fiscal year 2004.”

SPACE GRANT/EPSCOR PROGRAMS: “The conferees agree, that within the
total funding provided, $25,325,000 shall be for the National Space
Grant College and Fellowship program as specified in the House
report and $10,000,000 shall be for the EPSCoR program.”

The Science, Aeronautics and Exploration section of the conference
report includes 144 earmarks.


Audrey T. Leath

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094


SpaceRef staff editor.