H.R. 2405: NASA Provisions

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Publication date: 
6 October 1995
Number: 
140

Next week the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 2405, the
Omnibus Civilian Science Authorization Act of 1995. Title II of
this bill, known as the "National Aeronautics and Space
Administration Authorization Act, FY 1996" provides a number of
important indicators of the direction and level of NASA's future
science and technology programs.  As stated in FYIs #138 and 139,
passage of this bill is not assured, and it only permits, but does
not provide, actual program funding.  It will, however, if passed
by the House, represent a clear picture of the attitudes of the
House of Representatives toward NASA.  Congress is nearing
completion of the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations
Bill for FY 1996, which provides the actual money (see FYI #128.)
See FYI #138 for further information on the relative importance of
this legislation.

FUNDING:

This bill authorizes $11,547.4 million for the activities covered
in Title II of H.R. 2405.  It does not provide authorization for
the space station, which was previously approved by the House in a
separate bill (H.R. 1601 authorizes $2.121 billion per year for
seven years.)  

Section 212 of this bill authorizes $1,995.4 million for Space
Science.  The Administration FY 1996 request is $1,958.9 million;
the House space science appropriation is $1,975.4 million; the
Senate appropriation is $2,054.4 million. 

Of this amount, the bill authorizes $1,167.6 million for Physics
and Astronomy.  The administration requested $1,131.1 million for
Physics and Astronomy.   The bill targets $51.5 million for Gravity
Probe B, and specifically excludes authorization for the Space
Infrared Telescope Facility.  Specific authorization levels are
also set for Planetary Exploration, Life and Microgravity Sciences
and Applications, and Mission to Planet Earth. 

Authorization for Mission to Planet Earth spending is contingent on
a National Academy of Sciences comprehensive review of the program
and a subsequent NASA implementation plan that would be presented
to Congress.  Another section (248) of this bill calls for the NASA
administrator to report to Congress within six months about how the
use of commercial data, other international programs, Defense
Department data, and advanced technologies could benefit the
program.

NASA BUDGETING:

Section 202 states that NASA "has failed to request sufficient
funds to perform all missions it has proposed in annual budget
requests."  It continues, "In order to close the gap between
projected program requirements and the underfunding requested, the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration should aggressively
pursue actions and reforms directed at reducing institutional
costs, including management restructuring, facility consolidation,
procurement reform, personnel base downsizing, and convergence with
other defense and private sector systems."  NASA "must reverse its
current trend toward becoming an operational agency, and return to
its proud history as the Nation's leader in basic scientific air
and space research."  

FIELD CENTER FACILITY CLOSINGS:

Sections 221 and 22 call for an outside "asset-based review" of
U.S. space missions and capabilities to be performed by July 31,
1996.  No doubt in response to an earlier attempt by the House
VA/HUD appropriations subcommittee to close several NASA field
centers (see FYIs #97, 99 and 102), H.R. 2405 declares it
"premature and unwarranted" to close any center before such a
review is performed.  In addition, this bill states that a center
can be closed "only after enactment of legislation" following such
a review and a subsequent recommendation of the NASA administrator.

TRANSFERS TO RUSSIA:

Section 237 of the bill establishes a number of conditions that
must be met before authorized money can be paid or otherwise
transferred to Russia for cooperative space projects.  Among these
conditions is a restriction on Russian troops violating the
sovereignty of independent states of the former Soviet Union.

PURCHASE OF SPACE SCIENCE DATA:

Section 247 states: "To the maximum extent possible, the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration shall purchase from the
private sector space science data.  Examples of such data include
scientific data concerning the elemental and mineralogical
resources of the moon and the planets, Earth environmental data
obtained through remote sensing observations, and solar storm
monitoring."

SPACE SHUTTLE PRIVATIZATION:

Section 249 requires the NASA administrator to prepare an "orderly
transition" from the current federal management of shuttle
operations "to the Federal purchase of commercial space
transportation services for all nonemergency launch requirements,
including human, cargo, and mixed payloads.  In those preparations,
the Administrator shall take into account the need for short-term
economies, as well as the goal of restoring the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration's research focus and its
mandate to promote the fullest possible commercial use of space."
The bill calls for "a single prime contract for the space shuttle
program."

EARMARKING:  Section 253 contains the same kind of legislative
prohibitions on earmarking found in the Department of Energy and
NSF titles of the bill.

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