Congressional Budget Office Report on NASA Released

The Budgetary Implications of NASAs Current Plans for Space Exploration (PDF), Congressional Budget Office

"In response to a directive in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has updated its 2004 report analyzing the budgetary implications of the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations (NASAs) vision for the nations space exploration program."

"According to NASA, its current plans will require an average of $19.1 billion of funding annually from 2010 through 2025, with the Constellation program accounting for about half of the total by 2017. Under its current plans, the agency also intends to conduct 79 new robotic science missions through 2025, requiring funding of $4.7 billion annually, and to perform aeronautics research, at a cost of about $460 million annually."

Editor's note: The COB looked at 4 scenarios. No matter how you look at it, at current spending levels, NASA will continue to have program slips and will have to make cuts to other programs to keep Constellation anywhere near on schedule. COTS-D doesn't seem to have entered the COB equation:

Editor's Update: A couple more stories and commentary related to this.

Lawmakers Pressure NASA to Delay Shuttle's Retirement, Wall Street Journal

Budget report: NASA facing shortfalls, launch delays, USA Today

Former NASA chief moves on--NASA not so much, Scientific American

CBO costs out various NASA budget options, Space Politics

Scenario 1: Keep Funding Fixed and Allow Schedules to Slip

"By CBOs projections, with such cost growth and fixed annual budgets for the Constellation program, the initial operating capability for Ares 1 and Orion would be delayed from March 2015 to late 2016, and the first mission to return humans to the moon would be delayed from 2020 to 2023"
Finally, for this scenario, CBO assumed that NASA would forgo any missions on the space shuttles launch manifest that did not occur by the September 30, 2010.

Scenario 2: Execute NASAs Current Plans and Extend Operation of the Shuttle and Space Station

"The changes that CBO considered include extending the operation of the space shuttle to 2015 to eliminate the gap between its retirement and the availability of Ares 1 and Orion; extending support for the International Space Station by five years, allowing its continued use for experimentation, to December 2020; and fully funding investments in infrastructure, allowing NASA to perform the full amount of maintenance that the agency states is needed for its facilities. To cover all of the additional activities considered, NASA would require, by CBOs estimates, annual budgets averaging about $23.8 billion, or about 25 percent more than under its current plans"

Scenario 3: Achieve the Constellation Programs Schedule and Allow the Science Schedule to Slip

"CBO also estimated the additional funding that would be required under a scenario in which NASA seeks increased budgets to accommodate cost growth (at the historical (average) for only the spacecraft development activities conducted within the Constellation program. In this scenario, CBO did not include funding for cost growth in
the Science mission directorate, nor for the additional projects included in the previous
scenario. According to CBOs projections, under this scenario NASA would require, on average, $21.1 billion annually, or an increase of about 10 percent relative to the amount needed for its current plans (with NASAs 25 percent reserves taken into account). The additional funding needed to accommodate cost growth in the Constellation program would be about $1 billion in 2010 and would grow to about
$2.7 billion in 2025."

Scenario 4: Absorb Cost Growth to Achieve Constellations Schedule by Reducing Funding for Science and Aeronautics

"As a final scenario, CBO considered the budgetary impact of NASAs choosing to
accommodate cost growth in the Constellation program by reducing its budgets for
the Science and Aeronautics Research mission directorates."

Frank's note: Here we see the full implications of the initial Bush "no new money" plan to fund the VSE. How long will the illusion continue to be sustained that this program can be developed without substantial new funding? And for all of their bluster and posturing, the amounts of increases to the NASA top line that the Congressional leadership has approved-and the President as well-is simply too little, too late. Spaceflight on the cheap? Well, here's where it leads...

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This page contains a single entry by Marc Boucher published on April 16, 2009 5:59 PM.

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