NASA FY 2008 Request: Science Growth Rate Slowed

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Publication date: 
7 February 2007

President Bush has requested $17,309.4 million for NASA in fiscal year 2008, an increase of 3.1%, or $517.1 million, over the FY 2007 request of $16,792.3 million. This request continues NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's strategy of slowing the growth rate for science programs while completing the International Space Station (ISS), developing new launch and exploration vehicles, and retiring the Space Shuttle. "You will not find major strategic changes in the FY 2008 budget request as compared to last year," said Griffin in prepared remarks, "but you will see some slight course corrections." Science funding would grow by 0.9%, while Exploration Capabilities (which includes the Shuttle and ISS) would grow by 11.2%. According to agency budget documents, "NASA's greatest challenge" is using the shuttle to safely complete the ISS "while bringing new human spaceflight capabilities on-line not later than 2014." The documents state that these are "once-in-a-generation" activities, and a "slower rate of budget growth for Science missions is necessary to avoid a prolonged gap in strategic capability of U.S. human spaceflight."

As pointed out in FYI #15, the FY 2007 appropriations process is not yet completed. Griffin noted that the House-passed FY07 continuing resolution would cut NASA's current-year funding by $545 million from the FY07 request. All comparisons below are between the FY08 request and the FY07 request.

SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND EXPLORATION DIRECTORATE: Down 1.6%, or $167.5 million, from $10,650.6 million to $10,483.1 million.

SCIENCE: Up 0.9%, or $49.3 million, from $5,466.8 million to $5,516.1 million.

The Science budget, which falls under the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration Directorate, is now broken up by disciplines rather than broad themes as it was in past years. NASA documents show funding comparisons for the disciplines as follows:

Planetary Science: Down 1.1%, or $15.4 million, from $1,411.2 million to $1,395.8 million.
Heliophysics: Up 2.8%, or $29.1 million, from $1,028.1 million to $1,057.2 million.
Astrophysics: Up 0.2%, or $2.8 million, from $1,563.0 million to $1,565.8 million.
Earth Science: Up 2.2%, or $32.8 million, from $1,464.5 million to $1,497.3 million.

According to the budget documents, "The rate of growth previously planned for Science was not sustainable" while completing the ISS and retiring the shuttle. Therefore, the "Science program budget is moderated to 1% annual growth in FY08-11, and then growing consistent with NASA's topline growth thereafter" (projected as 2.4% in FY12). Additionally, "The Science budget balances investments based on National Academy of Sciences priorities and programmatic needs."

Among other programs within the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration Directorate, Exploration Systems would decline 5.5% to $3,923.8 million; Aeronautics Research would grow 4.7% to $554.0 million; and Education would decline 8.2% to $153.7 million.

EXPLORATION CAPABILITIES DIRECTORATE: Up 11.2%, or $683.4 million, from $6,108.3 million to $6,791.7 million.

Within this Directorate, Space Shuttle would decline 0.3% to $4,007.5 million; and ISS would grow 27.0% to $2,238.6 million.


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