Senate Appropriations Committee Sends FY 1996 NASA Budget to Floor

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Publication date: 
15 September 1995
Number: 
128

The Senate Appropriations Committee met earlier this week and has
sent to the floor H.R. 2099, the VA, HUD, Independent Agencies
Appropriations Bill for FY 1996.  This bill contains funding for
NASA, and will be voted on by the full Senate in the near future.
Following passage by the Senate, H.R. 2099 will then go to a
conference to resolve differences in funding levels between the
House and Senate versions of the bill.  The below figures and
recommendations are contained in Senate Report 104-140, which
accompanies H.R. 2099:

OVER-ALL NASA BUDGET:  The current budget is $14,376,684,000; the
Administration requested $14,260,000,000 for FY 1996.  The House
version of this bill provides $13,671,800,000, which is 95.9% of
the administration's request.  The Senate Appropriations Committee
recommends $13,798,500,000, which is  96.8% of the request.

Components within this over-all budget are as follows:

HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT:  The current budget is $5,514,897,000; the
Administration requested $5,509,600,000 for FY 1996.  The House
version of this bill provides $5,449,600,000, which is 98.9% of the
administration's request.  The Senate Appropriations Committee
recommends $5,337,600,000, which is 96.9% of the request.  Space
station funding is provided at the requested level
($1,833,600,000), with the Senate report stating, "The Committee
strongly endorses a robust and vigorous human space flight program
with space station as the most critical element." 

SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS, AND TECHNOLOGY:  The current budget is
$5,891,200,000; the Administration requested $6,006,900,000 for FY
1996.  The House version of this bill provides $5,588,000,000,
which is 93.0% of the administration's request.  The Senate
Appropriations Committee recommends $5,960,700,000, which is 99.2%
of the request.

     SPACE SCIENCE:  A component of the Science, Aeronautics, and
Technology budget is Space Science.  The committee report language
follows:

"The Committee recommends $2,054,400,000 for fiscal year 1996, an
increase of $95,500,000 to the budget request.  The Committee
recommends the following changes to the budget request:

"-$5,000,000 from the space infrared telescope facility [SIRTF].
The remaining $10,000,000 in funding should be sufficient for NASA
to conduct phase |A/B definition studies.  The Committee is
concerned about the large total program cost given anticipated
future budget constraints.  A decision by the Committee whether to
approve phase C/D development will be considered based on future
NASA requests and funding availability.

"+$51,500,000 for gravity probe-B [GP-B].  In October 1994, NASA
requested that the National Academy of Sciences validate the
technical feasibility and scientific merit of GP-B relative to
other science priorities within the NASA budget.  NASA has spent
$220,000,000 on the program thus far with another $340,000,000
needed for completion.  The academy found the GP-B project well
worth its remaining cost to completion.  Consequently, the
Committee recommends the program proceed as planned.

"+$46,000,000 for initiation of the Solar-Terrestrial Probes [STP]
Program.  Consistent with the NASA Office of Space Science
strategic plan and Senate Report 103-311, the Committee again
directs that NASA proceed with the STP Program of which TIMED is
the first mission.  The Committee recommends $41,000,000 to
initiate this mission which is capped at $100,000,000 (in fiscal
year 1994 dollars) for spacecraft development.  The Committee also
recommends $5,000,000 for design studies toward full development of
the inner magnetospheric imager, the second in the STP series of
missions recommended by the science community.

"+$3,000,000 for university explorer [UNEX], a university-led
program to develop small inexpensive spacecraft for astronomy and
space physics missions."

     LIFE AND MICROGRAVITY SCIENCES:  Another component of this
budget is research in Life and Microgravity Sciences.  Selected
portions of the committee report are as follows:  "The Committee
recommends $467,000,000 for fiscal year 1996, a decrease of
$37,000,000 to the budget request.  The Committee recommends the
reduction be made to space station payload facilities.  NASA should
seek to replace development of one or two of these facilities
through in-kind contributions from the space station international
partners.  NASA should continue the development of the space
station furnace facility given its level of development maturity."

     MISSION TO PLANET EARTH:  This program is also under the
Science, Aeronautics, and Technology budget.  Portions of the
report follow:  "The Committee recommends $1,280,100,000 for fiscal
year 1996, a decrease of $61,000,000 to the budget request.  The
National Academy of Sciences recently reviewed the Earth Observing
System [EOS] program and reaffirmed the program goal and overall
approach of providing scientific understanding of Earth as an
integrated system.  The National Academy, however, suggested
significant potential reforms to the EOS data information system
[EOSDIS].  As  result, the Committee recommends a $60,000,000
reduction to EOSDIS which would freeze it at the fiscal year 1995
budget level.  It is the Committee's understanding that this
reduction will not have a significant adverse effect on the
objectives of the EOS program....The Committee also strongly urges
that NASA seek greater commercial, international, and Government
participation in the program with the goal of reducing program
costs. ...the Committee views the planned Earth System Science
Pathfinder Program as an important component of such a strategy and
urges NASA to demonstrate missions that could dramatically lower
costs."

     ACADEMIC PROGRAMS:  This is another component of the Science,
Aeronautics, and Technology budget.  The report language states:
"The Committee recommends $102,200,000 for fiscal year 1996, a
decrease of $16,500,000 to the budget request and no change from
the fiscal year 1995 appropriation level.  The education programs
in the aggregate should be at a minimum at the fiscal year 1995
level."

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