FY 2012 Request for National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Publication date: 
24 February 2011

The  Administration has requested level funding for FY 2012 for the National  Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), unchanged from the FY 2010  appropriation of $18,724.3 million.  Said  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a message accompanying the FY 2012 budget summary:

“Even  in these difficult fiscal times, this budget supports all elements of the  bipartisan NASA       Authorization  Act of 2010, along with the President’s agenda of innovation, education, and       infrastructure.  However, tough choices had to be made. That is why this budget prioritizes  urgent needs,  while continuing the Agency's focus on a reinvigorated path of exploration,  innovation, and technological development leading to an array of challenging  destinations and missions. Today, we begin to win the future.”

A  year ago the Administration sent Congress a budget request that dramatically  changed some of NASA’s programs.  After  many months of negotiations House and Senate appropriators passed differing  versions of an FY 2011 funding bill that supported important components of the  Administration’s human space flight initiative.   This legislation was never passed.   Congress did pass, and the President signed, a NASA reauthorization bill  that the agency is implementing.  Bolden’s  message explains NASA’s priorities:

“Our  priorities are to: safely fly out the Space Shuttle this year and maintain safe  access for humans to low Earth orbit as we fully utilize the International  Space Station [ISS]; facilitate safe, reliable, and cost effective  U.S.-provided commercial access to low Earth orbit for crew and cargo as soon  as possible; begin to lay the ground work for expanding human presence into  deep space through development of a powerful rocket and modern crew capsule;  and pursue technology development to carry humans farther into the solar system  even as we extend our reach with robots and observatories and make the most of technological  breakthroughs to improve life here at home.”

An  agency summary explains:

“In  FY 2012, NASA will strengthen the Nation’s human space flight activities by  transitioning from an engineering focus on building the ISS to an emphasis on  scientific research and technology development -- essential building blocks for  a long-term human space exploration program. The ISS is the centerpiece of  NASA’s planning for extended space missions, as it serves as a research  laboratory and technology test bed for basic and advanced studies in life sciences,  human health, material sciences, Earth science, and fundamental physics. A new  independent non-profit organization is being established to coordinate and  oversee all of these research and technology efforts.”

The  following figures were taken from NASA’s budget document.  In all cases, comparisons are made to the  actual FY 2010 appropriation:

Total  NASA:

No  change: the actual FY 2010 appropriation was $18,724.3 million.  The FY 2012 request is $18,724.3 million.

Science  Mission Directorate:

Up  11.5 percent or $519.2 million from $4,497.6 million to $5,016.8 million.

Within  this budget are the following programs:

Earth  Science: Up 24.9 percent or $358.1 million from $1,439.3 million to $1,797.4  million.

Planetary  Science:  Up 12.9 percent or $176.3  million from $1,364.4 million to $1,540.7 million.

Astrophysics:  Up 5.5 percent or $35.4 million from $647.3 million to $682.7 million.

James  Webb Telescope: Down 14.8 percent or $65.0 million from $438.7 million to  $373.7 million.

Heliophysics:  Up 2.4 percent or $14.3 million from $608.0 million to $622.3 million.

The  budget document explains:

“In  FY 2012, NASA will launch the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP), the Mars  Science Laboratory (MSL), the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR),  and the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP). NuSTAR and Swift will continue the  search for black holes, and the Great Observatories (Hubble, Chandra, and  Spitzer), along with Fermi, will map out the earliest and most interesting structures  of the universe.

“NASA  will begin new studies of the Martian surface with the MSL rover, a mobile  suite of sophisticated scientific instruments designed to collect data on the  environment and geologic history of Earth’s nearest neighbor. Radiation Belt  Storm Probes (RBSP) will examine Earth’s radiation belts to help understand how  the Sun affects life on Earth. NASA will add to its fleet of climate monitoring  spacecraft by beginning operations of Glory, Aquarius, and NPP. The Glory  mission will provide scientists with data to enable better weather and climate  predictions. Data from these missions will inform strategies and policy  discussions on global climate change and possibly help to identify ways to  mitigate human impacts on the environment that may affect climate.

“Under  the restructured civilian portion of the National Polar-orbiting Operational  Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) now called the Joint Polar Satellite  System, NASA will be working as NOAA’s acquisition agent to develop and launch  the satellite system necessary for civil weather and climate measurements.  Similarly, NASA will support the Landsat program at USGS, to help ensure the  continuity of this historic and valuable national resource.”

Aeronautics  Research Mission Directorate:

Up  14.6 percent or $72.4 million from $497.0 million to $569.4 million.

Space  Technology:

Up  272.2 percent or $749.0 million from $275.2 million to $1,024.2 million.

Exploration  Systems Mission Directorate:

Up  8.9 percent or $322.9 million from $3,625.8 million to $3,948.7 million.

Space  Operations Mission Directorate:

Down  29.2 percent or $1,794.9 million from $6,141.8 million to $4,346.9 million.


Down  23.2 percent or $41.7 million from $180.1 million to $138.4 million.

Cross-Agency  Support:

Up  5.8 percent or $174.4 million from $3,017.6 million to $3,192.0 million.

Construction  and Environmental Compliance:

Down  0.5 percent or $2.4 million from $452.8 million to $450.4 million.

Inspector  General:

Up  3.0 percent or $1.1 million from $36.4 million to $37.5 million.

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