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Author Topic:   NASA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget
Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-10-2012 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Officials to Discuss Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2013 budget at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) on Monday, Feb. 13. The news conference will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters.

NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will join Bolden. The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

For the first time, NASA has invited 20 of its Twitter followers to join reporters for the budget news conference.

During the news conference, NASA also will take as many questions as possible submitted via Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA.

The NASA budget and supporting information will be available online at 1 p.m., Feb. 13.

After the overview briefing on NASA's fiscal year 2013 budget, the associate administrators of the mission directorates and NASA's chief technologist will hold teleconferences to discuss the budget's impact on their specific areas.

  • 3:30 p.m. - Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
  • 4:30 p.m. - Science Mission Directorate
  • 5:15 p.m. - Office of the Chief Technologist and the Space Technology Program
  • 6 p.m. - Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate
Each teleconference is scheduled to last 30 minutes. Live audio of the budget teleconferences will stream online.

capoetc
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posted 02-10-2012 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Associated Press reports that scientists are saying NASA is about to propose major cuts in its exploration of other planets, especially Mars. And NASA's former science chief is calling it irrational.
Two scientists who were briefed on the 2013 NASA budget that will be released next week said the space agency is eliminating two proposed joint missions with Europeans to explore Mars in 2016 and 2018. NASA had agreed to pay $1.4 billion for those missions. Some Mars missions will continue, but the fate of future flights is unclear, including the much-sought flight to return rocks from the red planet.

The two scientists, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the budget, said the cuts to the Mars missions are part of a proposed reduction of about $300 million in NASA's $1.5 billion planetary science budget. More than $200 million in those cuts are in the Mars program, they said. The current Mars budget is $581.7 million.

"To me, it's totally irrational and unjustified," said Edward Weiler, who until September was NASA's associate administrator for science. "We are the only country on this planet that has the demonstrated ability to land on another planet, namely Mars. It is a national prestige issue."

Fra Mauro
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posted 02-10-2012 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been waiting for this "other shoe" to drop. First you go after the manned program, then the unmanned program. Fortunately, this is just a proposal and Congress can make changes. It makes you wonder if the JWST should have survived.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-10-2012 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aviation Week reports that NASA will take only an $89 million cut in its topline spending request for fiscal 2013 compared to this year's operating plan, sources said Friday, but the $17.711 billion NASA budget proposal due out Feb. 13 will axe the joint effort with Europe to return samples from Mars, to pay for development overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope.
Human-spaceflight budgeting continues pretty much as expected, with an $830 million request for commercial crew development (CCDev) work and only a slight drop in the $2.8 billion NASA is spending this year on its heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion multipurpose crew vehicle.

The SLS would get another $1.8 billion under the new request, which must clear an election-year Congress focused on deficit reduction. The exploration-vehicle figures track with last year's budget runout for fiscal 2013, with the Orion budget tweaked downward to keep it in pace with launch vehicle work.

NASA is "metering" spending on the congressionally mandated deep-space human vehicles to stay within the flat budget, and apparently has decided not to try to recover the deep congressional cut in CCDev work this year. For fiscal 2012, the agency sought $850 million and got $406 million, which set back its target for operational commercial crew flights to the International Space Station (ISS) from 2016 until 2017...

The budget cuts $300 million from planetary science, and kills the joint effort with the European Space Agency to explore Mars robotically in preparation for a sample-return mission. Europe has already prepared a bilateral Mars-exploration plan with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, after NASA withdrew from three-way talks in December.

SpaceKSCBlog
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posted 02-11-2012 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceKSCBlog   Click Here to Email SpaceKSCBlog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suspect that if Senator Barbara Mikulski, the chair of the Senate appropriations space subcommittee, didn't represent the state where JWST is being built then JWST would be dead and buried. The money has to come from somewhere to pay for her pork. Mars doesn't appear to have a patron like JWST has Mikulski.

arjuna
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posted 02-11-2012 08:35 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Without taking sides on Mars/robotic missions v. SLS v. JWST v. CCDev (if it were up to me I'd triple NASA's budget thus ending the problem), in the current flat budget world we live in it's all zero-sum competition. So one person's unnecessary "pork" is another's "no brainer".

There aren't any short-run solutions except to lobby your politicians to increase space spending across the board. That's an uphill battle to say the least, but you can make a legitimate argument that to the extent there is a budget problem, it's a long-term spending problem - not fundamentally a short-term discretionary spending issue.

And that there is a big difference - albeit mostly under-appreciated - between spending for goods and services that will be immediately "consumed" versus those that are also investments in the future, which includes space (and science/health generally).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-13-2012 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
White House overview (PDF)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The President's 2013 Budget provides $17.7 billion to support the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in its mission to drive advances in science, technology, and exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of the Earth. Key investments are made in programs that will ensure American leadership in space science and exploration, support the development of new space capabilities, make air travel safer and more affordable, and answer important scientific questions about the Earth, the solar system, and the universe.

Funding highlights:

  • Provides $17.7 billion, a decrease of 0.3 percent, or $59 million, below the 2012 enacted level. While making difficult choices, the Budget builds on our existing space infrastructure, contin- ues efforts to streamline agency operations, and preserves innovative capabilities and tech- nologies to sustain American leadership in space.

  • Implements a lower cost program of robotic exploration of Mars that will advance science and will also help lay the foundation for future human exploration.

  • Invests in new space technologies, such as laser communications and zero-gravity propellant transfer, which can improve America's ability to access and operate in space and enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. space industry.

  • Leverages a Federal investment of $830 million and private sector investment and ingenuity to develop a U.S. capability to transport crews into space, thereby eliminating our dependence on foreign capabilities in this area.

  • Provides continued robust funding for the development of a new heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule that will take America deeper into space than ever before, create American jobs, ensure continued U.S. leadership in space exploration, and inspire people around the world.

  • Provides $1.8 billion for research and a robust fleet of Earth observation spacecraft to strengthen U.S. leadership in the field, better understand climate change, improve future disaster predictions, and provide vital environmental data to Federal, State, and local policymakers.

  • Funds the highest priority astronomical observatories and robotic solar system explorers, including a successor to the Hubble telescope and a mission to return samples from an asteroid, while delaying unaffordable new missions.

  • Continues the effort to turn NASA's former Space Shuttle launch facilities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida into a 21st Century launch complex so that they can efficiently support programs like the Space Launch System and commercial operators.

  • Streamlines agency operations, resulting in over $200 million in savings.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-13-2012 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA budget documents: Additional breakdowns and summaries posted here: NASA Budget Documents.

DChudwin
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posted 02-13-2012 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While the budget is a starting point and gives some idea of administration policy, NASA's final appropriations may look a lot different.

It amazes me that in a $3.8 trillion budget the OMB can't find $300 million to maintain U.S. participation in the joint Mars program with ESA.

NASA represents only 0.5% of the total federal budget, literally a drop in the bucket and ten times lower in constant dollars than the height of the Apollo program. With deficits of nearly a trillion dollars a year, the $300 million cut in space science is negligible as to the deficit but devastating to plans to explore Mars.

Fra Mauro
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posted 02-14-2012 09:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The news could be worse in this budgetary environment. Again, I'm sure Congress will make changes. A few things are noticeable — one is the cut in SLS and Orion (does this show a lack of administration support for this?) and the absence of any future planetary probes. I'm not saying we should use the Mars 2016 slot or slice the budget just to go with the ESA but the seeming lack of desire to go anywhere is troublesome.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-14-2012 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
...absence of any future planetary probes.
The budget includes funding for the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sample return mission, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) and the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). It was also said yesterday that NASA will select another Explorer-class mission in 2014.

Fra Mauro
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posted 02-14-2012 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And there is the Discovery series.

Jay Chladek
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posted 02-15-2012 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All this little bit of trimming going on makes me think for the next few years that they will just keep cutting and trimming "a little" at a time until there is nothing left to cut.

I just think it is interestingly ironic that the proponents of unmanned exploration are now crying foul now that there is no manned program like shuttle for them to blame for sucking up all the funds.

Spaceguy5
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posted 02-15-2012 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What's saddening is that if you take NASA's budget as a percent of the overall federal budget, the only 2 years that beat 2012's .48% are 1958 and 1959, which were the first 2 years NASA was operational. (Though of course, the value of a dollar and the amount of the total federal budget has fluctuated over the years, although you must also consider that present-day NASA has more projects to split its budget between than it did in older generations).

BNorton
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posted 02-15-2012 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
The budget includes funding for the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sample return mission, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) and the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE)
Yes, there will continue to be small low budget craft for a few years out. However, there are no flagship missions (beyond MSL) "on the books" in this decade. (Furthermore, if the money were to become available for such a project, the US may not even have the Plutonium isotope required to power such a mission since the US has stopped production. There is no money to restart production... but then, why bother if you have no use for the isotope.) There are also no space telescopes in work except for Webb. Space science is in disarray... and...

If one wants to switch back to the topic of manned flight, I have noticed that some NASA releases now put "commercial crew" availability at 2017, rather than 2015 used in the not too distant past. Oh, let us not forget that there is no money to build the service module that Orion would require to fly. The US Space program is in such great shape that the US may end up "begging" (my choice of words) Europe to build it for us.

While this is a space forum, one would be remiss to fail to mention the Aeronautics budget, which was devastated under the former administration. This administration has chosen to continue the gradual loss of US leadership in the aeronautics field by not restoring any of the needed aeronautics funding.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-15-2012 09:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BNorton:
There is no money to restart production...
NASA has been working with the Department of Energy (DOE) to restart Pu-238 production and had set aside $10 million from the FY2012 budget to do so. Unfortunately, Congress refused to fund the DOE's participation in an activity that it deemed mostly benefited NASA.
quote:
If one wants to switch back to the topic of manned flight, I have noticed that some NASA releases now put "commercial crew" availability at 2017, rather than 2015 used in the not too distant past.
This is not new; NASA has been warning of the slip since Congress severely cut the commercial crew funding during the previous budget run.
quote:
The US Space program is in such great shape that the US may end up "begging" (my choice of words) Europe to build it for us.
ESA has a vested interest in being part of the United States' exploration efforts and frankly, adapting the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for use as a service module for the Orion MPCV isn't a horrible idea.

SpaceKSCBlog
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posted 02-16-2012 06:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceKSCBlog   Click Here to Email SpaceKSCBlog     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BNorton:
This administration has chosen to continue the gradual loss of US leadership in the aeronautics field by not restoring any of the needed aeronautics funding.
Just curious... Can you document some of these "needs"? I haven't seen any planes falling out of the sky lately. What are the overlooked "needs" that are costing lives and/or our competitiveness with other nations?

SpaceAholic
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posted 02-16-2012 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Development of next generation air transportation will impact competitiveness. Though one could reasonably argue its time for aeronautics to be divested from NASA's portfolio so it can focus exclusively on space.

BNorton
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posted 02-16-2012 08:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceKSCBlog:
I haven't seen any planes falling out of the sky lately.
Wow. What a statement. I will add that neither have I. In fact, if the budget were zeroed tomorrow, I think planes would still not be falling out of the sky. But sit back and relax in that nice Lazy Boy chair, along with the rest of America, and watch the negative changes in the U.S. aviation industry.

(Unfortunately this forum, while an excellent one, does not allow the space or time to provide a list of the negative impacts to the short and long term prospects of the US aviation industry brought about by the budget changes referred. I ask that you please go out and read the available literature.)

quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
ESA has a vested interest in being part of the United States' exploration efforts and frankly, adapting the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for use as a service module for the Orion MPCV isn't a horrible idea.
Not seeing that the US cannot even fund a service module for its updated 1960s capsule as a problem is so alien in thinking to me that I cannot debate you on this point.

I find it very disappointing that so many do not see what to me are obvious problems, that there is so much "spin" put on the current efforts, trying to make the building of a "mole hill" look like the building a mountain. The negative consequences of the path we are headed down are numerous. The impact is obviously not immediate.

As an example: a lot of the work for a craft, such as the service module for Orion, or aeronautic research under NASA's aeronautics budget, is done by graduate students at major universities. The students are employed as "research assistants" and work under the direction of faculty and government contract monitors.

Graduate students are cheap labor (and if you are one of these engineering graduate students, you might use the term "slave labor".) The work gets done, the technical ability of US industry is advanced allowing it to compete, the students are trained, the work pays for the student's education, and an aerospace engineer is born, one who may be a part of the design and building of the next plane you fly for that winter trip to the Caribbean or they will probably eventually be designing the bridge you drive across every day as you go to work.

That work is going away or gone... not a good thing for a country that claims it needs more engineers. Obviously this lack of work also affects the industrial base of the US.

Furthermore, it is not just engineering that is affected. I know of several teachers at the secondary level who worked at NASA centers during the summer in "intern" like programs... they took this knowledge back to their classrooms. The work they did over the summer was real research work (the teachers had to have advanced degrees in a science field), which advanced the state of the art in and for the US. (They did not build model rockets to take back to their students.)

The teachers also expanded their skills, and took the knowledge learned back to their students. For the last two years, this work has been gone. (Obviously there are many stories like the above that more directly impact the US industrial base, our ability to compete, our image in the world marketplace, and the overall US economy.)

Cozmosis22
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posted 02-16-2012 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Though one could reasonably argue its time for aeronautics to be divested from NASA's portfolio so it can focus exclusively on space.
That is a vestige of the old NACA days and will be hard to change. Have advocated removing the aviation aspect from NASA and focusing exclusively on space travel for some time, to no avail. That is, however, the only way to get a true "space agency" for the 21st Century.

Jay Chladek
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posted 02-16-2012 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can't just get rid of the Aeronautic side as there are so many things that cross benefit. Wind tunnels for aircraft are just as needed for rocket designs. Parachute design tests for recovering capsules (or ones for probes headed to Mars) are just as needed here as wing tests are for planes. Plus, if somebody managed to develop a decent SSTO vehicle using scramjet propulsion (meaning a flight out of the atmosphere into orbit and back), NASA will have to rely on aeronautical research just as much as space research. Shuttle was a classic example of the merging of those principles going back to the first tow tests of the plywood M2-F1 lifting body (which sold the concept and paved the way for the rocket powered lifting bodies of the late 1960s and 1970s).

To cut one to benefit the other is just plain stupid to consider. One of the things that has at least kept NASA around for this long has been its diverse programs. So even in the lean years of manned spaceflight in the 1970s, it was still doing other things and producing benefits.

Plus, if NASA isn't doing such research, then the companies are and their findings become proprietary. I admit some technologies are probably best left to private industry to flesh out better anyway and I was not in favor of the FY 2010 budget proposal that favored killing Constellation, while adding funding to NASA to produce green technologies. But there are still some cutting edge research projects that NASA has been involved in which we don't think about that are beneficial in ways we never considered.

Take those fancy wind generating turbines for instance. As I recall NASA did the first low drag wind turbine research in the mid 1970s. They refined the shape of the blades and the control systems thanks to wind tunnel and practical research. Of course, no US company picked up the ball and ran with it, so almost all wind turbines built are from European companies today.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-16-2012 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
You can't just get rid of the Aeronautic side as there are so many things that cross benefit.
There are numerous examples of inter-agency partnerships that could serve the same purpose. NASA has worked with the FAA, NOAA, NSF, DOE, DoD and others. If aeronautics were to be separated out and wind tunnels or other tools or expertise needed to advise on space projects, NASA could turn to the appropriate agency for assistance.

Fra Mauro
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posted 02-17-2012 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If our government cannot even fund the service module for Orion, then the belief that there is a real commitment to the program is a joke.

I still wonder if the SLS and Orion is a fantasy to the administration. Remember that these programs were not part of their "roadmap" to space exploration.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-17-2012 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The FY2013 budget provides funding for a service module at the same funding levels as the FY2012 budget.

The European Space Agency was first to propose use of its Automated Transfer Vehicle as a service module for a U.S. built crew exploration vehicle and NASA is assessing that option but has made no decisions.

Project management for the service module is assigned to Johnson Space Center with support from Ames, Glenn and Langley research centers. From the FY2013 budget summary:

The service module supports the crew module from launch through separation prior to reentry. It provides in-space propulsion capability for orbital transfer, attitude control, and high altitude ascent aborts. When mated with the crew module, it provides the water, oxygen and nitrogen needed for a habitable environment; generates and stores electrical power while on-orbit; and maintains the temperature of the vehicle's systems and components. This module can also transport unpressurized cargo and scientific payloads.

moorouge
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posted 02-17-2012 09:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
...so almost all wind turbines built are from European companies today.
In the UK these wind turbines are the source of a 'fast buck' to the companies operating wind farms to the tune of several million pounds all paid for by the British tax payer in subsidies and by the consumer in higher electricity bills.

Perhaps the Obama administration has seen this and cut funding accordingly.

Though a side issue, it does highlight the serious question that has to be asked when debating the NASA budget. With the shortage of funds available in the general economy is it not a question of affording not what one wishes for but what is absolutely necessary?

Consideration should be given within the budget as to what is necessary to keep US activity in the exploration of space viable and what is not, especially when funding is limited because of the economic situation.

capoetc
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posted 02-18-2012 09:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
With the shortage of funds available in the general economy...
If that were the case, one would think the President's requested budget would be a decrease from the 2012 budget, but it is actually an increase (up from $3.7 trillion to $3.8 trillion). This is, of course, not surprising since the cost of providing existing programs increases from year to year. Mandatory spending, most of which is in the areas of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, along with interest on the national debt, makes up around 65% of the federal budget currently.

Regardless, it is highly unlikely that the President's budget will pass both houses of Congress. In fact, it's not likely that it will pass either house – this budget process is far from over.

AJ
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posted 02-18-2012 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
I just think it is interestingly ironic that the proponents of unmanned exploration are now crying foul now that there is no manned program like shuttle for them to blame for sucking up all the funds.
I agree with you, but with a caveat: not all proponents of unmanned exploration are created equal. There are those who are genuinely committed to exploring Mars, Jupiter, etc., and there are those who talk a good game but can't manage a thing. I think this budget is part of a complicated issue within NASA and it's going to take a lot of work, not just more money, to get it all figured out.

SpaceAholic
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posted 02-18-2012 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Returned results from Mars Science Laboratory may recalibrate NASA funding priorities.

SkyMan1958
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posted 02-18-2012 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I am disappointed in US civilian space funding, I find all this doom and gloom about the US in space to be WAY off the mark.

Coming from a remote sensing background, I am surprised how many people here have forgotten a little part of the US budget called the military. Let's not forget that during the 1960's the US spent roughly the equivalent of the Apollo budget on reconnaissance technology. Obviously I'd prefer if our cutting edge technology was driven by civilian needs, but the simple fact of the matter is that military technology and military systems eventually find their way into the civilian sector.

Now unquestionably the military budget will also be getting cut in the upcoming decade, but military space systems (in general) tend to do well in budget cuts. I don't know what the current US military budget is on space systems (and much of these system's budgets are "black"), but I would be quite surprised if it isn't significantly more than the NASA budget.

The technology and the know how from these systems will eventually wend their way into the US civilian space sector, for example communications and remote sensing.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-18-2012 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SkyMan1958:
Now unquestionably the military budget will also be getting cut in the upcoming decade, but military space systems (in general) tend to do well in budget cuts.
Space News reported that funding for unclassified U.S. military space programs and activity would decline by 22 percent, to $8 billion, under the 2013 Pentagon spending request released by the White House Feb. 13.
The Pentagon attributed the proposed funding decline to reduced procurement plans for satellites and launch vehicles, along with the cancellation of the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS), which was done at the behest of Congress. The U.S. Air Force halted work on DWSS program Jan. 17.

Noticeably absent from the 2013 request is funding for a DWSS follow-on system, for which Congress appropriated $125 million in 2012. Also absent from budget documents released Feb. 13 is a funding line for a second Space-Based Space Surveillance satellite, designed to keep tabs on activity in Earth orbit...

The biggest single line item in the Pentagon’s space budget request is the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, used to launch most of the Pentagon’s operational satellites. The service is requesting $1.68 billion for the program next year, a sum that covers the procurement of four new rockets and associated services and activities but does not include launches to be procured on behalf of the U.S. Navy or National Reconnaissance Office, budget documents said.

In a bid to curb its rising launch costs, the Air Force is pursuing a block buy strategy under which it intends to procure six to 10 rockets annually from contractor United Launch Alliance over a period of three to five years. That plan has been criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and has detractors in Congress as well.

DChudwin
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Posts: 972
From: Lincolnshire IL USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 02-18-2012 11:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Returned results from Mars Science Laboratory may recalibrate NASA funding priorities.
You are assuming that MSL lands successfully. Curiosity is using a new landing system which adds significant risk to the program. NASA should have done MSL in tandem (like Spirit and Opportunity) but did not have the funds, especially because of nearly $1 billion in cost over-runs on MSL. While I hope for the best, Mars missions have a history of being dicey.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3023
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-19-2012 06:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Such an optimist! - of course I am assuming it has a violent impact and spectroscopy performed on airborne debris liberated from the ensuing explosion reveals abundant organic material.

Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 03-13-2012 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know how many people are reading the budget hearings, but Mr. Bolden's answers are very interesting. Maybe I'm reading between the lines too much but I get the sense that he prevented deeper cuts into the budget by the administration.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 03-13-2012 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The bit about the Air Force wanting its rockets in a block buy I find interesting. If their plans for a block buy get cut, then it would be worth their time to consider coming up with a group buy strategy with NASA or the commercial developers for certain boosters such as Atlas 5, if NASA fully intends to have the Atlas man rated for Dreamchaser and a couple of the other commercial spacecraft designs on the table (I can't remember the names).

I see why the Air Force wants to go this route, so they can lock in a price early and more rockets built means the price per unit potentially goes down. So I don't necessarily see why the GAO wants to raise a big stink about it, except perhaps that it means spending money NOW instead of three to five years from now.

Of course, I have a feeling if the Air Force got their boosters, they would find payloads to fly on them sooner (using up their supply) than later unless the contract stipulated that some of the boosters couldn't be finished right away (which the contractors might like as it would keep the factory workers employed for a longer period).

It sucks that General Chilton retired from STRATCOM when he did, but all things considered he is probably glad he is not having to be involved in the negotiations with this budget fight (unless as a consultant). Its going to be a long year.

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