Excerpt from: A Blueprint for New Beginnings — A Responsible Budget for America’s Priorities (February 2001)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Highlights of 2002 Funding

  • Provides $14.5 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a two-percent increase over 2001 and a seven-percent increase over 2000.
  • Provides increased funding for International Space Station development and operations consistent with a strategy of constraining Space Station cost growth. Growth in development and operations is largely offset through budget reductions in Space Station hardware and other Human Space Flight programs and institutional activities. NASA will be undertaking a number of management reforms to bring Space Station costs under control.
  • Provides a 64-percent increase over 2001 for NASA’s Space Launch Initiative. This increase continues NASA’s commitment to provide commercial industry the opportunity to meet NASA’s future launch needs and to dramatically reduce space transportation costs and improve space transportation safety and reliability.
  • Funds a more robust Mars Exploration Program.
  • Funds a science-driven program of prioritized follow-on missions for second-generation Earth Observing System measurements that will provide a greater understanding of how the Earth and its climate are changing, an increase of five percent over 2001.
  • Prescribes other management reforms that NASA will undertake to promote innovation, open Government activities to competition, and improve the depth and quality of NASA’s R&D expertise. In particular, NASA will implement planned and new Space Shuttle privatization efforts, pursue a competition by the middle of the decade for new launch vehicles to service Space Station cargo and crew needs, and develop a plan for tapping U.S. academia and industry to strengthen NASA’s mission capabilities.

    Initiatives and Redirected Resources

    International Space Station. Recent cost growth on the Space Station is estimated at approximately $1 billion for 2001 and 2002 and $4 billion for the next five years. To address this unprecedented cost growth and ensure that the program remains within the five-year budget plan, the President’s 2002 Budget will include important decisions regarding the funding and management of the program while preserving the highest priority goals: permanent human presence in space, world-class research in space, and accommodation of international partner elements. Thus, the U.S. core will be complete once the Space Station is ready to accept major international hardware elements. The cost growth is offset in part by redirecting funding from remaining U.S. elements (particularly high-risk elements including the Habitation Module, Crew Return Vehicle, and Propulsion Module). In addition, funding for U.S. research equipment and associated support will be aligned with the assembly build-up. Future funding decisions to develop and deploy any U.S. elements or enhancements beyond completion of the U.S. core will depend on the quality of cost estimates, resolution of technical issues, and the availability of funding through efficiencies within the FY 2002 Budget runout for Space Station or other Human Space Flight programs and institutional activities. The Budget will propose advance appropriations for the Space Station as a further means to cap Station spending – this cap may be adjusted upward if efficiencies and offsets are found in other Human Space Flight programs and institution.

    Space Science. To ensure successful execution of programs already underway, two projects with a very large escalation in cost, the Pluto-Kuiper Express and Solar Probe missions, will not be funded. To support a potential, future sprint to the planet Pluto before 2020, additional funds will be directed to key propulsion technology investments. The budget funds a more robust Mars Exploration Program. In addition, the Budget will also provide critical technology funding to support future decisions on high-energy astrophysics missions.

    Earth Science. NASA has worked with the National Academy of Sciences to develop future Earth Science research priorities, and based on these priorities, developed plans for the second generation of Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites. NASA’s outyear plan for these satellites has been under-funded, but the Budget will provide a five-percent increase in 2002 for a science-driven EOS Follow-On program while discontinuing low-priority remote sensing satellite and environmental application projects to ensure that EOS priorities can go forward.

    Space Shuttle. The budget will provide for a sustained level of six Space Shuttle flights per year and continues funding for Space Shuttle safety improvements, within which NASA will establish safety investment priorities for Shuttle safety upgrades and critical facilities.

    Aero-Space Technology. The budget will eliminate lower priority aeronautics programs and reduce under-performing information technology programs.

    Potential Reforms

    Fulfilling the President’s promise to make Government more market-based, NASA will pursue the management reforms to promote innovation, open Government activities to competition, and improve the depth and quality of NASA’s research and development expertise. These reforms, described below, will help reduce NASA’s operational burden and focus resources on Government-unique research and development activities at NASA.

    • International Space Station. NASA will undertake reforms and develop a plan to ensure that future Space Station costs will remain within the President’s 2002 Budget plan. Key elements of this plan will: 1) restore cost estimating credibility, including an external review to validate cost estimates and requirements and suggest additional options as needed; 2) transfer Space Station program management reporting from the Johnson Space Center in Texas to NASA Headquarters until a new program management plan is developed and approved; and 3) open future Station hardware and service procurements to innovation and cost-saving ideas through competition, including launch services and a Non-Government Organization for Space Station research.
    • Space Shuttle Privatization. NASA will aggressively pursue Space Shuttle privatization opportunities that improve the Shuttle’s safety and operational efficiency. This reform will include continued implementation of planned and new privatization efforts through the Space Shuttle prime contract and further efforts to safely and effectively transfer civil service positions and responsibilities to the Space Shuttle contractor.
    • Space Launch Opportunities. NASA’s Space Launch Initiative provides commercial industry with the opportunity to meet NASA’s future launch needs, including human access to space, with new launch vehicles that promise to dramatically reduce cost and improve safety and reliability. NASA will undertake management reforms within the Space Launch Initiative, including: 1. ensuring vehicle affordability and competitiveness by limiting requirements to essential needs through commercial services; 2. creating requirements flexibility, where possible, to accommodate innovative industry proposals; 3. validating requirements through external, independent review; 4. implementing a well-integrated risk-reduction investment strategy that makes investments only after requirements and vehicle options are well-understood to ensure a viable competition by the middle of the decade for initial Station cargo and crew launch services; 5. ensuring no set-aside funds for non-industry vehicles like the Space Shuttle; and 6. achieving affordable, near-term successes in Next Generation Launch Services and Alternate Access to the Space Station and integrating these near-term activities into longer-term planning.
    • Critical Capabilities. U.S. academia and industry provide a rich R&D resource that NASA can tap to strengthen its mission capabilities. NASA will develop an integrated, long-term agency plan that ensures a national capability to support NASA’s mission by: 1) identifying NASA’s critical capabilities and, through the use of external reviews, determining which capabilities must be retained by NASA and which can be discontinued or led outside the agency; 2) expanding collaboration with industry, universities and other agencies and outsourcing appropriate activities to fully leverage outside expertise; and 3) pursuing civil service reforms for capabilities that NASA must retain, to ensure recruitment and retention of top science, engineering and management talent at NASA.