An Overview of NASA’s Budget Proposal

NASA LOGOThe Obama Administration has proposed NASA receive $17.71 billion in FY 2014, which is $50 million below what was proposed last year. Due to sequestration, NASA’s actual funding for FY 2013 will be approximately $16.5 billion when the year ends on September 30, so it would represent a $1.2 billion increase.

The new budget proposal is based on the assumption that sequestration will be replaced by what the Administration calls a “balanced deficit reduction” plan that will meet the same deficit cutting goals while avoiding deep cuts in NASA and other agencies. It’s not clear at this point if this is a realistic hope. The Republicans in Congress don’t seem enthused by the Administration’s overall budget plan.

Confused? Don’t feel bad. So am I. And it’s my job to cover this stuff.

An overview of NASA’s budget proposal drawn from the space agency’s briefing materials follows after the break.

BUDGET OVERVIEW

ExpenditureAmount
(Millions)
Exploration$3,915.5
Exploration Systems Development$2,730
Commercial Spaceflight$821.4
Exploration R&D$364.2
Space Operations $3,882.9
International Space Station$3,049.1
Space and Flight Support$833.8
Space Technology$742.6
Science$5,017.8
Earth Science$1,846.1
Planetary Science$1,217.5
Astrophysics$642.3
James Webb Telescope$658.2
Heliophysics$653.7
Aeronautics Research$565.7
Education $94
Cross Agency Support$2,850.3
Center Management and Operations$2,089.7
Agency Management and Operations$760.6
Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration$609.4
Inspector General$37
TOTAL:$17,715.4

COMMERCIAL SPACEFLIGHT

  • Facilitates development of affordable U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with a goal of achieving safe, reliable, and cost effective access to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.
  • Reduces our dependence on Russian spaceflight capabilities for crew exchange.
  • Builds on successful progress in the development of commercial cargo capabilities and the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) activities.
  • Ensures contracted services meet the Agency’s crew transportation system certification requirements.

EXPLORATION SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT

  • Begins planning and early development for an asteroid capture mission.
  • Provides steady funding for SLS and Orion MPCV along with associated Exploration Ground Systems (EGS).
  • Continues modifications to the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39, Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Control Center to support 2017 launch.
  • Maintains the Orion MPCV on track for early uncrewed test flights in 2014 and 2017 and a first crewed flight in 2021.
  • Note: Exploration Systems Development (ESD) construction funding of $142M million is requested in the Construction and Environmental Remediation account.

SPACE AND FLIGHT SUPPORT

  • Supports continued modernization for a 21st Century Space Launch Complex to improve capabilities and infrastructure for a low-cost multi-user space transportation infrastructure at KSC in conjunction with Exploration Ground System efforts for SLS and Orion MPCV. (Note: SFS construction funding of $26M million is requested in the Construction and Environmental Remediation account).
  • Provides space communication and navigation capabilities to all missions through numerous networks.
  • Ensures crew health and expertise for current and future missions by maintaining the U.S. astronaut corps with appropriate skills and experience.
  • Provides safe, reliable, and cost effective launch services for NASA, Commercial and NASA- sponsored payloads using ELVs.

– LSP will manage 3 launches in FY 2014 – MAVEN, TDRS-L, and OCO-2, and will provide advisory support to GPM Core.

  • Supports government and commercial rocket propulsion testing at NASA test facilities.

EXPLORATION RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

  • Increases investment in asteroid capture, retrieval, and redirection technologies, and concepts for astronaut extravehicular technologies.
  • Expands fundamental knowledge and develops advanced human spaceflight capabilities required to explore space in a more sustainable and affordable way.
  • Comprises of the Human Research Program (HRP) and the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program.

–HRP researches the human system to provide countermeasures, knowledge, technologies, and tools to enable safe, reliable, and productive human spaceflight missions.

–AES pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrates key capabilities, and validates operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit, such as the asteroid retrieval and sample mission.

– AES maintains critical competencies at the NASA centers and is seeking to increase the use of that expertise in public-private partnerships to work in collaboration with the outside entities. AES also supports robotic missions of opportunity in collaboration with the Science Mission Directorate.

ASTEROID MISSION OVERVIEW

Proposed mission would leverage and align existing activities:

  • Asteroid observing efforts to identify target asteroids (in Science);
  • Demonstration of new propulsion technologies to power the mission to reposition the asteroid (in Space Technology);
  • Development of SLS rocket and Orion vehicle to launch humans to rendezvous with and sample the asteroid (in Exploration Systems); and
  • Development of new technologies to encounter and sample the asteroid (in Exploration R&D).

The Budget provides $105M to support identification and general mitigation strategies for asteroids, as well as to initiate planning and early development of the asteroid mission to enable human rendezvous with an asteroid before 2025. Formulation of this mission is still in the early stages, and NASA is committed to pursuing an affordable and feasible mission.

SPACE TECHNOLOGY

Delivers innovative solutions that dramatically improve technological capabilities for NASA and the Nation, including:

  • Accelerated development of a high-powered solar electric propulsion capability to enable infusion of this capability into multiple applications, and make it available to be used to power the robotic segment of the proposed asteroid retrieval mission.
  • Developing, testing and flying a portfolio of enabling and breakthrough technologies across six major areas including fabrication of a 5.5 meter composite cryogenic propellant tank, launch of a cluster of small spacecraft to measure space radiation, demonstration of advanced robotics on the International Space Station, and development of the largest Solar Sail ever operated in space.
  • Continuing a steady cadence of new technology starts to be conducted by the NASA workforce, academia, small businesses, and the aerospace enterprise, to ensure a steady pipeline of innovation to NASA’s missions.
  • Chief Technologist’s efforts in transferring and commercializing technology to a wide range of users to ensure the full economic value and societal benefit of these innovations is realized.

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

Continues international partnerships to maintain a continuous crew of six capability and research essential to sustaining long-term habitation in space.

Supports:

  • ISS activities, including EVA and visiting vehicles.
  • As needed anomaly resolution and failure investigation.
  • Development of hardware that supports research.
  • Utilization of new hardware to perform plant research and investigate gravity effects on physiology and biology.
  • Reuse of hardware to launch the ISS-RapidScat to measure ocean-surface wind speed and direction.
  • Cargo resupply of the ISS.