Sen. Shelby on NASA’s Proposed Budget: I Hate It!

Sen. Richard Shelby
Sen. Richard Shelby

Chairman Richard Shelby Opening Statement
Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Hearing to Review the Budget Request and Budget Justification for the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
March 10, 2016

(As prepared for delivery)

Welcome to the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request for NASA.

I want to welcome Administrator Charlie Bolden, who will testify before the Subcommittee this morning.


NASA Budget Reactions

CSF_logo2Some reactions to NASA’s $19 billion FY 2017 budget request from the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Washington D.C. – Today the Obama administration submitted its FY2017 budget request to Congress. The request includes proposed funding and guidance for all NASA programs and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).

“I commend the Administration for a budget that provides robust funding for NASA and FAA AST,” said CSF president Eric Stallmer. “We applaud the proposals that would enable and utilize private space capabilities to help build a sustainable American expansion into the Solar System from the edge of space through low-Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond. It builds on the strong foundation established by the FY16 Omnibus and Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. We look forward to working with the Congress to fully fund a number of the proposals in this request, while also championing efforts to shore up areas that need additional input and support.”

Within the NASA portfolio, the request continues the bipartisan commitment to the United States achieving safe, reliable, and independent human access to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil by 2017. The request provides funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo programs to ensure that the nation has multiple U.S.-based transportation capabilities to and from the ISS, ending NASA’s dependence on Russia, and expanding ISS scientific research and technology development activities through 2024. The request includes funds for the development of a deep space habitat, which should utilize a public-private partnership to ensure NASA meets the Congressionally mandated 2018 deadline for development of a prototype habitation module. Finally, the request includes $15 million for the Flight Opportunities program to enable affordable testing of new technologies necessary for future exploration plans, and provides critical training opportunities needed to sustain a skilled workforce.

The budget request includes $19.8 million, an increase of $2 million over FY16, for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, to ensure that it has the resources necessary to process and approve commercial space launch and reentry licenses, experimental permits, and spaceport licenses in a timely manner, which will help reduce the possibility of delayed launches, slowed innovation, and a diminution in the United States competitive edge. In addition, the request includes $3 million for Commercial Space Transportation Safety to better integrate commercial launch and reentry “traffic” with the National Airspace System.

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration notes the release of the Administration’s FY 2017 NASA budget request. The Coalition had hoped the request would reflect the priorities laid out for NASA in the FY16 Omnibus, for which there was broad support. Unfortunately this was not the case. The Coalition is disappointed with the proposed reduction in funding below the FY16 Omnibus for NASA’s exploration programs.

Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, the executive director of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, issued the following statement:

“While we appreciate the funding proposed for the International Space Station and its transportation systems, space science programs including the James Webb Space Telescope, and proposed deep space habitat, we are deeply concerned about the Administration’s proposed cut to NASA’s human exploration development programs. This proposed budget falls well short of the investment needed to support NASA’s exploration missions, and would have detrimental impacts on cornerstone, game-changing programs such as the super-heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), and the Orion spacecraft – the first spacecraft designed to reach multiple destinations in the human exploration of deep space.

The greatest challenge to these programs is not technical, but budget stability, plain and simple. At this critical stage, it is important to ensure that the significant progress already made on the development of the SLS and Orion spacecraft continues, so as to meet important milestones including the first integrated launch in 2018 and crewed missions beginning in 2021. Fully developing these systems will enable the United States to realize its aspirations for human exploration, planetary missions, international collaboration, and scientific discovery.

Year after year, Congress, with bipartisan leadership in the House and Senate, has led the way in ensuring these important exploration capabilities remain on track, including in the recently-enacted FY 2016 Omnibus. Once again, we look to bipartisan efforts in the Congress to ensure that these programs receive the funding necessary to continue progress, enabling the nation’s return to deep space and ensuring America’s role as the global leader in human space exploration.”

NASA FY 2017 Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA LOGOThe President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget
Carries out an ambitious deep space exploration program
and continues the Nation’s Journey to Mars.

Actuals FY 2015: $18 billion
Enacted FY 2016:  $19.3 billion
Requested FY 2017:  $19 billion

NASA’s budget advances the Nation’s space exploration plan and ensures our nation remains the world’s leader in space exploration and technology, aeronautics research and discovery in space and Earth science. The budget supports developing the technologies that will make future space missions more capable and affordable, partnering with the private sector to transport crew and cargo to the International Space Station, continuing the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems that will one day send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. The budget also keeps the Webb Telescope on track for a 2018; builds on our scientific discoveries and achievements in space; and supports the Administration’s commitment to serve as a catalyst for the growth of a vibrant American commercial space industry.


Senate Boosts NASA’s Budget

NASA LOGOThe Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a FY 2015 budget for NASA that totals $17.9 billion. The amount $439 million above the Obama Administration’s request and $254 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The spending plan is also in line with the $17.896 billion approved by the House.

Details on the Senate spending measure are still a bit sparse, but the Commercial Crew Program would receive $805 million, which is less than the $848 million requested by the Obama Administration but more than the House’s allocation of  $785 million.

Senators reportedly left in language inserted by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) that could drive up the cost of the Commercial Crew Program. See the Space Access Society alert for more details.

The Space Launch System would received $1.7 billion. The House has approved $1.6 billion for the heavy-lift rocket, while the Administration wants to spend $1.38 billion.

The International Space Station would received $3 billion, which is in line with what the House approved and the Administration proposed. Senators approved $5.2 billion for NASA’s Science program, a boost of more than $200 million over the Administration’s request.

The House and Senate Appropriations Budgets for NASA

NASA LOGOby Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees have put forth significantly different spending plans for NASA in FY 2014.  The Senate would fund NASA at $18 billion, a nearly $300 million increase over  President Barack Obama’s $17.7 billion request. The House would cut the request by $1.1 billion to just under $16.6 billion.

The two house of Congress have major disagreements over several funding priorities. The House significantly reduces the Administration’s request for the Commercial Crew Program and prohibits NASA from spending money on its proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission until the space agency develops a more detailed plan. The House also makes a deep cut in the Earth Science budget.

The Senate makes a much smaller cut in commercial crew, and it is silent on the asteroid plan.  It also provides a small increase in the President’s request for Earth science.


Commercial Spaceflight Federation on Senate Budget: We Like It!

csf_logo_newestWashington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) applauds the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill approved yesterday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill sends $18.1 billion to NASA for Fiscal Year 2014, including $775 million for the Commercial Crew Program and $670 million for Space Technology, of which $17 million is allocated for the Flight Opportunities Program.

“With this legislation, the Senate Appropriations Committee has recognized the key role NASA plays in American innovation, exploration, and inspiration,” stated CSF Chairman Stuart Witt. “We thank Chairwoman Mikulski and the rest of the Committee for their commitment to preserving America’s leadership in space and supporting the many American engineers and scientists working to bring the benefits of spaceflight to everyone.”


Critics Blast House Spending Plan for NASA

Capitol Building
Well, the reviews are in for the House’s $16.6 billion spending plan for NASA. And they are not good:

“Absolutely lethal” to a balanced space program.
— Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL

“This proposal would challenge America’s preeminence in space exploration, technology, innovation, and scientific discovery…..The bill will jeopardize the success of the commercial crew program and ensure that we continue to outsource jobs to Russia.”
— David Weaver, NASA Associate Administrator for Communications

“Less funding for the commercial crew program simply equates to prolonged dependence on foreign launch providers.”
— Michael Lopez-Alegria, Commercial Spaceflight Federation President

Read the statements by Weaver and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation below.


Richard Shelby: Budget Hawk, Hometown Pork Winner

Sen. Richard Shelby
Sen. Richard Shelby

New details are emerging about the Senate’s proposal to spend $18 billion on NASA for FY 2014. As usual, some of the most interesting comments are coming from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the Senate’s biggest supporter of the Space Launch System and, ironically, one of its biggest opponents of massive, pork-laden government program.’s Lee Roop reports that the Senate is much more generous with commercial crew:

The Senate subcommittee’s budget also appropriates $775 million to commercial space programs, but at Shelby’s initiative withholds $250 million until NASA does a study that certifies how long the International Space Station will be usable after 2020, its current projected lifespan.

The Obama Administration asked for $821.4 million. Two House subcommittee have proposed $500 million and $700 million to be spent on the program next year. The overall House budget for NASA is either $16.6 billion or $16.8 billion, depending on the subcommittee.


Mikulski to House: Drop Dead!

Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Sen. Barbara Mikulski

The Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, led by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), has approved an FY 2014 budget that includes $18 billion for NASA.

The amount is higher than the $17.7 billion requested by the Obama Administration. The budget sets up a showdown with the House, where two subcommittees have given the space agency $16.85 billion and $16.6 billion.
In a press release, the committee said:
“No agency represents the Nation’s scientific prowess like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The dream of space inspires schoolchildren to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But the dream of space also inspires brilliant scientists and engineers at the height of their careers to probe even deeper into the secrets of the universe and our origins. NASA scientists and their private sector and university partners are peering into the big bang and the origins of the universe, drilling into rocks on Mars, researching cures for salmonella on the International Space Station, building the vehicles that will let humans explore beyond low earth orbit, preparing to analyze samples from the Sun, and looking back to Earth to understand and protect our planet. The $18 billion in the bill for NASA will preserve a NASA portfolio balanced among science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments. Moreover, it will keep NASA in the forefront of innovation, inspiring private companies to build new crew transportation and spawning a new satellite servicing industry that can revive, refuel, and rejuvenate defunct communications satellites.”
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House Wants NASA to Lay Out Commercial Crew Options Now

If the House’s version of NASA’s budget passes, Administrator Charles Bolden would have 60 days to report back to Congress with five distinct strategies for the final stages of Commercial Crew Program.

Four strategies would be pegged to annual funding levels of $500 million to $800 million over three fiscal years. The fifth option would be one not previously considered that NASA believes is viable and will reduce overall costs.


Palazzopalooza ’13: A Giant Leap Backward

Like House Republicans, Archie and Edith Bunker yearned for an earlier, simpler era that never really existed. Well, Archie more than Edith. And, at least he was very funny. Congress…not so much. (Credit: CBS Television)

“Boy the way Beatles played
Songs from Sgt. Pepper’s parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days….”

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

In this edition of “Palazzopalooza: We’ll Bamboozle Ya!,” we look at how the House’s nostalgia for the past is preventing it from dealing with the realities of the present.

Today’s conservative Republicans are by far the most nostalgic of Americans. They yearn for a earlier, simpler time when America was a far more perfect union. Unfortunately, their visions are often rather selective, ignoring unpleasant realities of the past and the limitations of the present day.

This is, sadly, what we see in the NASA budget the House passed last week. Just how far in the past are Congressmen living? Decades.


Palazzo Vision: SLS and Orion…Now and Forever More

Continuing our look at the House’s spending plan for NASA, this edition of “Palazzo Vision: $3 Billion is Not Enough” examines provisions that would prevent NASA from ever canceling the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion without prior Congressional approval while immediately freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars more to spend on the two programs.


Palazzo Vision: House Eviscerates NASA Space Act Agreements

Rep. Steven Palazzo
Rep. Steven Palazzo

On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Space met under Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) to mark up NASA’s budget for FY 2014 and 2015.

The $16.6 billion measure not only cuts the Obama Administration’s request by $1.1 billion, it includes a number of provisions designed to tie the hands of the NASA Administrator, protect key projects favored by Congress, and shift power away from the Administration.

In this edition of “Palazzo Vision: The Road to Pork,” we take a closer look at what the chairman and his merry band of government hating, pork loving comrades want to do to NASA’s Space Act Agreements.

What lies after the break is not for anyone with a weak stomach, heart condition, chronic ulcers or who is under the age of 18. You have been warned.


Nelson: House Funding Plan for NASA Unacceptable

Florida Senator Bill Nelson
Florida Senator Bill Nelson

There is some good news and some bad news about the NASA budget from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

The good news is that the Senate version of it will likely be far more generous than the House version discussed last week.

The bad news is that Congress is so dysfunctional that the space agency’s spending will get caught up in a much larger dispute over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, as it did last year. That could once again delay budget decisions until the week between Christmas and the new year.

The House version of the budget would keep NASA’s spending for the next two years at $16.8 billion, which is what it received this year under the cuts mandated by sequestration. The Obama Administration has requested nearly $17.8 billion for NASA for FY 2014.