Status Report

Memo From NASA Assistant Administrator For Legislative Affairs Regarding The FY 2007 budget in the 110th Congress

By SpaceRef Editor
November 17, 2006
Filed under ,
Memo From NASA Assistant Administrator For Legislative Affairs Regarding The FY 2007 budget in the 110th Congress

Subject: FYI: FY 2007 budget, 110th Congress

Info from HQ regarding changing of the guard in Congress.


You may get questions from your local communities about the impacts of the new Congress that will convene in January. Below are a few suggested points you can use if asked:

  • Following the loss of Shuttle Columbia, the President recommended broad new goals for the space program, goals which received strong bipartisan support in the 2005 NASA Authorization Act.
  • These goals are strategic rather than tactical, long-term rather than short, visionary rather than myopic. They are not partisan goals – they are American goals for the American space program.
  • NASA operates in a bipartisan fashion, and we have worked hard to engage all Members with an interest or responsibility for NASA oversight. As a result, we have strong supporters on both sides of the aisle.
  • Remember that the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, which endorsed the Vision for Space Exploration as well as other key priorities, was adopted in the House by a near-unanimous, bipartisan vote of 383-15, and by unanimous consent in the Senate.
  • We at NASA look forward, as always, to working with the new Congress as we carry out this program on the nation’s behalf.
  • For the unfinished FY 2007 budget, we appreciate that the House and Senate versions fully fund CEV, CLV, Shuttle, and ISS. Nonetheless, there are a number of remaining issues (including cuts to exploration and unrequested direction in science and aeronautics) that NASA will work with the Congress to resolve.

Also, re: FY 2007 appropriations, we still don’t know what the “end game” will be, although it’s becoming clearer that Congress will indeed return in December for an additional 2-3 week session, during which time they would take up the Robert Gates nomination for SecDef as well as try to complete the remaining appropriations bills. NASA’s bill will likely be wrapped up into a mini-omnibus bill (i.e. a bill that includes multiple other appropriations bills). I’ll keep you apprised as we learn more.

In the interm, I’ve attached a backgrounder that identifies the impacts of the bills passed by the House and Senate to date; this document is cleared for distribution outside of the agency as well. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs

Background: Impacts from House and Senate FY 2007 Appropriations Action Constellation Exploration Technology Development (ETD)
NASA Request: $354.0M
HAC Mark: $239.3M (-$114.7M)

The ETD program is focused on maturing technology identified as high priority for the exploration architecture, which are essential to reduce risk, life cycle costs, and have important connections to U.S. science, economic and national security interests. Last year, the Technology Development program was prioritized as part of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) review, to ensure that the R&T portfolio directly supports requirements of the Constellation Systems program. ETD budget and content was substantially reduced through this exercise and the FY 2007 request retains only the high priority research necessary to support exploration needs.

The House-proposed reduction of 1/3 of the request would impact all NASA Centers, particularly Ames Research Center, Glenn Research Center, Langley Research Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center, resulting in increased uncovered workforce of approximately 165 FTEs. The cuts would have an immediate and long-term impact on the ability to feed technology into Constellation to reduce overall program risk and cost, resulting in deferral of the following procurements:

  • In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology needed to enable the production of oxygen, water, and propellants from lunar resources, reducing the amount and costs of consumables that must be resupplied from Earth. (Lockheed Martin, Pioneer Astronautics, Colorado School of Mines, CO; Caterpillar, IL; U. S. Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Lab, NH; Northern Centre for Advanced Technology, Canada)
  • Power generation and energy storage technologies needed to provide an energy-rich infrastructure on the lunar surface that would increase exploration capabilities and stimulate commerce for Earth-based applications. (Lockheed Martin, CO; Teledyne Energy Systems, MD; TJ Technologies, MI)
  • Robotic systems needed for assisting crew with surface operations and setting up equipment at the lunar outpost before the crew arrives. Robotics technology developed for space has applications for manufacturing of consumer products, assisting disabled persons, and homeland security. (MIT, Univ. of Massachusetts)
  • Autonomous precision landing and hazard avoidance systems needed to reduce the risk of crews landing on the moon. (Draper Labs, MA; Univ. of Texas; Utah State)
  • Non-toxic propulsion systems needed to reduce the costs associated with ground operations involving hazardous propellants. (KT Engineering, AL; Northrop Grumman, CA; Aerojet, CA; Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, FL; ATK GASL, NY)
  • Radiation tolerant and low temperature electronics needed to ensure the reliable operation of systems in the extreme environments at the lunar poles. (Georgia Tech; Vanderbilt Univ.)
  • Fire prevention, detection, and suppression systems needed to ensure crew safety in exploration vehicles and lunar habitats. (Univ. of California Berkeley, Univ. of California San Diego; Colorado School of Mines; Case Western Reserve Univ.)
  • EVA spacesuit needed for lunar surface exploration would be delayed because development of critical component technologies for life support, thermal management, energy storage, and dust mitigation would not be started. (Hamilton Sundstrand, CT; ILC, Dover, DE)
  • Reliable software needed to control and operate critical flight systems. (USC, CA; Carnegie Mellon Univ.; Vanderbilt Univ.)
  • Spacecraft autonomy needed to enable untended operations of the CEV in lunar orbit while the crew is on the surface. (United Space Alliance, TX)
  • Integrated health management systems needed to warn the crew of impending failures in vehicle systems and to help the crew troubleshoot problems. (Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, CA; ATK, Thiokol, UT)

Constellation Launch and Mission Systems (LMS)
NASA Request: $469.9M
SAC Mark: $373.1M (-$96.8M)

The LMS budget supports the ground and mission operations systems needed to inspect, assemble, test, simulate, plan missions, train astronauts, launch, operate and recover Constellation flight hardware. To support Ares I-1 (formerly Ascent Development Flight Test [ADFT-1]), scheduled for 2012, ground systems must be fabricated/modified/fully operational prior to shipment of flight articles for ground testing/flight preparation, including: Mobile Launch Platform/new construction; VAB/High Bay mods; Launch Complex 39/Pad B mods; Command and Control LMS; and, Exploration Training Facility (JSC).

Senate-proposed cut jeopardizes bringing the CLV on-line, including the planned early 2009 CLV demonstration (33 months from now) and 2014 First Human Launch.

Detailed LMS technical requirements will not be completed until Systems Requirements Review (SRR) next spring. Long-lead facilities architecture and engineering (A&E) design is underway. Multiple A&E contracts have been awarded, and construction contracts will be let in FY 2007. As noted in the FY 2007 IBPD, cost estimates elements within Constellation are “subject to change as the project matures.” It is crucial to the success of the Vision that funds for individual projects not be seen as separate from the overall program. Based on latest planning estimates leading to the LMS SRR, NASA will submit a FY 2007 reprogramming request that changes the mix of Constellation projects. LMS funding is expected to be reduced by ~$200M, offset by increased funding primarily for the Ares I CLV. This reflects a reduction in the current single-string LMS launch infrastructure baseline (1 pad, 1 MLP, 1 LCC, etc) since the FY 2007 submit, and decisions early in FY 2006 to revise CLV architecture to include a 5-segment SRB with J-2X upper stage rocket (which increased up-front development funding requirements while reducing outyear operations costs, technical risk and life-cycle costs for the Ares I CLV).

Exploration R&T/Robotic Lunar Exploration Program (RLP)
NASA Request: $272.7M
HAC Mark: $252.7M (-$20M)
SAC Mark: $312.7M (+$40M)

The RLP has been renamed the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program (LPRP). The House reduction would impact the execution of LPRP, an enabling pathfinder for Constellation, charged with global mapping of the lunar surface, finding/surveying safe and optimal landing sites for human exploration, and characterizing lunar resources to support affordable/sustained exploration. LPRP reduces Constellation risk through lunar field tests, demonstration, validation and establishment of systems and surface capabilities. The architecture is being developed concurrently with the overall Agency Lunar Architecture and will execute critical missions prior to the first human landings. As part of this Architecture, NASA is defining a mid-sized lander, and expects to brief Congress by mid-December 2007. International cooperation has the potential to defray NASA’s costs for this program…

The House reduction would delay formulation of Medium Lunar Lander project ($20M available in FY 2007), slated for management by MSFC and implementation by the Applied Physics Laboratory. The delay would have a corresponding effect of adding risk to Constellation by jeopardizing critical data expected from LPRP for Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM) design and landing site selection. Further, the Senate increase of $40M at the expense of other Constellation projects would pose a significant risk to Constellation by jeopardizing critical data expected from LPRP for use in Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM) design and in landing site selection, impact the gap, and jeopardize the planned schedule for human launch.

NASA’s FY 2007 request for LPRP is at an appropriate level to support the Agency Lunar Architecture.

HAC mark: +$15M, study and plan new start for Europa,
+$10M TPF, $98.5M
Reprogram to continue SOFIA
$98.5M, SIM, original request

The House Report identifies $15M to study and plan for a new start for Europa, estimated to cost $2.5-4.0B. NASA does not have adequate funding in its budget horizon to support a flagship class mission to Europa in addition to investments being made in other planetary missions (Mars Science Laboratory and Juno, which will conduct in-depth study of Jupiter and further understanding of the Outer Planets) and other prioritized astronomy missions such as HST and JWST. Recent discoveries by Cassini at Enceladus and Titan, coupled with greater understanding of the technological readiness of a Europa mission, have encouraged examination of the current prioritization for the next flagship mission. With the science community, NASA will conduct four advanced mission concept studies for destinations at Europa, Ganymede, Titan, and Enceladus, which will take into account the findings since release of the Decadal Survey, assess opportunity and technological readiness, and provide estimated costs. After independent review, the study results will be used by NASA to determine the destination of the next flagship mission.

The House Report identifies $10M for continuation of the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) program. In FY 2006, NASA discontinued funding for TPF, estimated to cost $4.5-6.5B. In FY 2007, within the overall Navigator Program, NASA plans to spend very limited funds on important technologies needed to further planet finding missions. The Kepler mission, which has promising techniques for planet-finding, will also contribute to sustaining the science community. NASA will also develop appropriate mission information in support of the upcoming Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) Exo-Planet Task Force report and the next NAS Astronomy and Astrophysics decadal study. It is premature to fund the TPF project at a higher level until inputs from these two studies from the science community are available; NASA does not support funding TPF at the expense of reductions in other Science programs.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) program was independently reviewed in early 2006, with a decision to reinstate the program, consistent with the endorsement of SOFIA by the last two NAS Astronomy and Astrophysics decadal studies. An independent science review in 2004 reinforced the importance of SOFIA science, placing it in the same category as that of NASA’s Great Observatories. SOFIA was restructured to assign program management to NASA Dryden, as well as aircraft development and flight testing. NASA Ames continues management of the science portion of the program including the operations of SOFIA, pending an independent review in 2007 of the management of science operations. NASA seeks to fund SOFIA at a level of $58.9M in FY 2007.

The Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) has been refocused to a technology development and research project, the FY 2007 budget has been revised from $98.5M to $31.2M, and funding is being redirected to higher priority objectives in the Astrophysics portfolio, including SOFIA. NASA will be informed by the priorities in astrophysics from the upcoming ExoPlanet Task Force Report and the decadal survey in setting priorities within NASA’s Universe/Astrophysics portfolio in the future. SIM will address remaining technical challenges and mission architecture focus of space interferometry techniques to locate, and assess the mass and orbital characteristics of extra-solar planets, building on technology progress to date. In FY 2007, the SIM technology project will continue to retire instrument development risk and preparatory science. NASA does not support the direction to increase SIM at the expense of reductions in other Science programs. NASA’s future portfolio of Astrophysics mission will be informed by the priorities established in the upcoming Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) Exo-Planet Task Force report and the NAS Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. It is premature to fund the SIM project at a higher level until the inputs from these two studies from the science community are available.

Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM)
NASA Request: $98.1M
SAC Mark: $-0-(-$98.1M)

The Senate Report reduces the LDCM request of $98.1M to zero and directs that NASA adopt a revised acquisition approach that fully competes separate elements of the mission. LDCM is a joint NASA-United States Geological Survey (USGS) mission to extend the Landsat record of multispectral, 30-meter resolution, seasonal, global coverage of the Earth’s land surface beyond the Landsat-7 lifetime.

The Senate reduction would halt all activities on the LDCM; force the acquisition formulation to slip until 2008; slip the LDCM launch to increase the Landsat data gap by 1-2 years; and, force the loss of critical Landsat expertise. NASA seeks full funding at the President’s request level of $98.1M in FY 2007 Conference action.

NASA’s LDCM acquisition strategy now includes separate procurements for the instrument, spacecraft and mission elements with the Goddard Space Flight Center as the Mission Integrator. The LDCM Instrument Element is planned as a full and open competition and is considered the initial, highest priority acquisition. The LDCM Spacecraft Element is being planned as an acquisition using the NASA Rapid Spacecraft Development Office (RSDO) contract. The Mission Operations Element is also planned as a full and open competition.

Multi-User System Support (MUSS)
NASA Request: $150M
HAC Mark: $116.6M (-$33.4M)

The House-passed bill reduces MUSS by $33.4M. MUSS supports integration/operation of non-Russian payloads on the ISS. Payload customers include ESMD, SOMD, DOD, International Partners and others. Efforts include manifest development, payload integration, crew training, operations planning, procedure development and certification, safety disposition, flight software development, payload verifications and testing, and sustaining engineering for payloads, many of which are supported through the Payload Operations Integration Center and telescience capabilities.

NASA will complete ISS assembly to meet our International Partner commitments and utilize the ISS as a vital part of the Vision. FY 2007 represents the continuation of the most challenging period of assembly and operation. The ISS program is committed to execute FY 2007 within the current budget, but the program currently has content requirements in excess of budget; threats total $138.0M, with probable threats of $38.0M and no reserves are available for relief. To relieve the negative reserves posture on ISS in FY 2007, $17.0M in MUSS content reductions have been identified for FY 2007 to help restore ISS program reserves. NASA requests that any reductions in MUSS be used to restore ISS program reserves.

A reduction of $33.4M in MUSS would force NASA to consider layoffs of critical staff and the potential mothballing of the Payload Operations Integration Center and Payload Operations Integration Function (POIC/POIF) at MSFC. NASA would face the inability to operate all European, Japanese and Canadian payloads which are dependent upon the POIC/POIF. Standing up the operation again in FY 2008 could potentially cost more than savings from a shutdown in FY 2007. The program would experience significant delays in standing up the research capability as staff would have to be retrained. Because of the untenable impacts from this cut, NASA seeks rejection of the proposal in Conference and requests that ISS be fully funded in final action on the FY 2007 bill.

Katrina Transfer Authority

Total Katrina requirements are currently estimated at $437.4M, made up of $389.8M in direct Katrina-related requirements and $47.6M in Shuttle/ISS payback needs: MAF—$181.0M, SSC—$202.1M; NSSC—$3.2M; Other—$3.4M; Shuttle/ISS Payback—$47.6M.

The $389.8M in total direct Katrina requirements includes all Center recovery and operations activities and all proposed catastrophic loss mitigation projects, and a $5M lien against one construction project. NASA is seeking to transfer up to $48M from the $384.8M in emergency supplemental funds to pay back the remaining Shuttle/ISS loan. The Space Shuttle program (SSP) requires payback to mitigate both schedule and operational risk in FY 2007. Currently, the SSP has limited reserves, which reduces its programmatic ability to deal with unexpected requirements. The ISS program has content requirements in excess of budget availability in FY 2007 due to budget reductions over the past several years and impacts of the Columbia accident. This has resulted in a negative ISS reserve posture (more requirements and threats than available funding) for FY 2007. If $47.6M were transferred from the supplemental funds to repay the remaining Shuttle/ISS loan, the total available funding remaining for Katrina would be $384.8M, the same amount as appropriated in the emergency supplemental measures. The full amount of $384.8M would still be available for Katrina needs; no content would be affected by the transfer.

NASA is able to fund all Katrina recovery and operations activities as well as all accepted catastrophic loss mitigation projects and still repay remaining borrowed Shuttle/ISS funds if transfer authority is provided by Congress. Payback of the FY 2005 loan of funds to support the immediate recovery from Hurricane Katrina is required to achieve the essential elements of the first steps of the Vision for Space Exploration – the assembly of the International Space Station and the safe flight of the Space Shuttle.

Office of Strategic Communications
NASA Request: $27.8M
SAC Mark: $20M (-$7.8M)

The Senate Report limits funding for NASA’s Office of Strategic Communications to $20M, stating that this represents adequate resources to execute the functions of the Office of Strategic Communications. It also notes that “over time, this office has grown to a total staffing level of 131 FTEs.”

The Office of Strategic Communications includes the Offices of Public Affairs, External Relations, Legislative Affairs, Education and Communications Planning, all of which respond to statutory direction in the Space Act. Total staffing level is on a downward path to reach 150 FTEs by the end of FY 2007,, down significantly from 198 FTEs in FY 2005. The Senate reduction of 25 percent would severely impede the Agency’s ability to communicate NASA’s message externally, would reduce public outreach, and would eliminate funding for all planned procurements and travel. These expenditures include the operation of NASA TV, foreign language interpreters, export control compliance programs, management of foreign visits, visa processing, health insurance for NASA personnel deployed to the former Soviet Union in conjunction with U.S. international cooperation (standard U.S. health insurance programs are insufficient for use in the FSU), and funding for audio visual equipment, much of which is necessary to support continued updates of the NASA web pages, which has been largely outsourced.

The Office of Strategic Communications performs critical functions for the Agency and Congress, consistent with mandates embodied in the Space Act. The Office has not grown over time, and, in fact, has been reduced. NASA seeks full funding for the Office of Strategic Communications at the President’s request level of $27.8M.

SpaceRef staff editor.