FY 2009 Budget Request: NASA

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Publication date: 
11 February 2008


President Bush has requested $17,614.2 million for NASA in fiscal year 2009, an increase of 1.8 %, or $304.7 million, with virtually all of the increase going to fund two high-cost human spaceflight programs: the Constellation Systems program and continued operation and construction of the International Space Station (ISS). The request, according to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, “addresses a balanced set of priorities . . . for our nation’s civil space and aeronautics programs.” The space agency is, “making steady progress in the assembly of the [ISS] in accordance with our commitments to our fifteen international partners,” he said, “and “completing the space station, retiring the space shuttle in 2010 and managing the transition from the space shuttle to the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares launch vehicles are, collectively, the greatest management challenges facing NASA since Apollo.”Accordingly, the Constellation Systems program would receive $3.0 billion, an increase of 23.3 %, or $576 million. The ISS would receive $2.1 billion, a 13.6 % increase of $247 million over the FY 2008 appropriation.

Science programs at NASA would decrease 5.6 % to $4.4 billion, which follows the slight increase of 0.9% last year. Within the science portfolio, the deepest cuts hit Astrophysics, down 13 %, and Heliophysics, down 31 %. The cuts in Heliophysics are not as dramatic as the appear, however, because $256 million was transferred from the Heliophysics portfolio to Deep Space and Near Earth Networks programs. When the transfer is taken into account, the decrease is about 1 %, or $7.6 million.

All of NASA’s numbers in FY 2009 are more difficult to compare to previous years because Congress ordered the agency to revamp its accounting structure. Allocations that went last year to three accounts (Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration; Exploration Capabilities; and Inspector General), are now divided among seven accounts (Space Operations, Exploration Systems, Science, Aeronautics, Education, Cross Agency Support, and Inspector General).

The breakdowns of the major directorates is as follows:


EARTH SCIENCE: Up 6.8 %, or $87.2 million, from $1280.3 million to $1367.5 million.

PLANETARY SCIENCE: Up 6.9 %, or $86.7 million, from $1247.5 million to $1334.2 million.

ASTROPHYSICS: Down 13 %, or $175 million, from $1337.5 million to $1162.5 million.

HELIOPHYSICS: Down 31.3 %, or $263.6 million, from $840.9 million to $577.3 million.

Despite the 5.6 % cut to Science, Shana Dale, NASA’s deputy administrator, described the science budget as “exciting.” She said the FY 2009 budget request initiates seven new mission, more than the past three science directorate budgets combined. Most of those missions come in Earth and Planetary Science.

“In Earth Science, NASA’s investments in measuring the forces and effects of climate change are allowing the policymakers and the public to better understand its implications to our home planet,” she said. “Based on NASA satellite data, we have seen the receding ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica; we have observed the smallest Arctic sea ice coverage ever recorded; and using satellite sensors also helped document the doubling of nitrogen oxide emissions, one of the greenhouse gases that form smog, over Asia from 2000 to 2006.”

The FY 2009 Earth Science budget, she said, is based in part on the Decadal Survey for Earth Science completed last year. The five-year budget run out, she said, provides $910 million for the development of the SMAP mission for soil moisture mapping, and a second generation ICEsat mission, which looks at ice sheet mass, clouds, and land elevation. In Planetary Science, there is money for two small lunar lander programs, and other smaller lunar missions. The Mars sample return mission, planned for launch in 2020, is in the preliminary planning stages, with a cap of $3 billion for U.S. participation in what NASA hopes will be an international effort.

Proposed funding for other programs include:

AERONAUTICS: Down 12.7 %, or $65 million, from $511.7 million to $446.5 million.

EXPLORATION: Up 11.3 %, or $357 million, from $3143.1 million to $3500.5 million.

SPACE OPERATIONS: Up 4.5 %, or $248.5 million, from $5526.2 million to $5774.7 million.

EDUCATION: Down 21.2 %, or $31.2 million, from $146.8 million to $115.6 million.

CROSS AGENCY SUPPORT: Up 1.7 %, or $57 million, from $3242.9 million to $3299.9 million.

INSPECTOR GENERAL: Up 8.9 %, or $2.9 million, from $32.6 million to $35.5 million.


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