OMB Pushes Back On Senate Space Appropriations Thinking

Letter from OMB to Sen. Shelby regarding Senate versions of appropriations bills (NASA/Space excerpts)(PDF)

"The bill includes funding that the Administration believes is not in line with the overall effort to control non-defense spending reflected in the FY 2020 Budget request or underfunds key investments in critical areas supported in the FY 2020 Budget request, including:

- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Administration appreciates the Committee's continued support for space exploration, reflected in the $22.8 billion provided in the bill for NASA, which includes an increase of $680 million for lunar-focused exploration programs. However, the $1.6 billion provided for exploration research and development (R&D) is insufficient to fully fund the lander system that astronauts would use to return to the Moon in 2024. Funding exploration R&D at the $2.3 billion level requested in the FY 2020 Budget is needed to support the Administration's goal of returning to the Moon by 2024.

The Administration would also like to take this opportunity to share its views regarding language provisions in the bill including:

- NASA Europa Mission. The bill requires that NASA use the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to launch the Europa Clipper mission. The Administration is deeply concerned that this mandate would slow the lunar exploration program, which requires every SLS rocket available. Unlike the human exploration program, which requires use of the SLS, the Europa mission could be launched by a commercial rocket. At an estimated cost of over $2 billion per launch for the SLS once development is complete, the use of a commercial launch vehicle would provide over $1.5 billion in cost savings. The Administration urges the Congress to provide NASA the flexibility called for by the NASA Inspector General and consistent with the FY 2020 Budget request.

- NASA financial systems report language. The Committee report includes directive language for NASA that would hinder the Administration's efforts to help the agency make necessary corrections to its financial systems. These changes are needed to eliminate current deficiencies and improve NASA's ability to efficiently comply with the Antideficiency Act.

- Satellite Instrumentation Report Language. The Committee report includes language that would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the impacts that instruments operating in the 23.6 to 24 gigahertz bands have on weather satellites. Such a study would be directly duplicative of past Agency studies on this subject, which were fully considered by the Administration in a lengthy interagency process earlier this year, leading to a carefully-wrought compromise that balances the spectrum needs of government and private enterprise. The Administration believes that further study is unnecessary, and asks that the language be removed.

The Administration appreciates that the bill includes funding for critical priorities, including:

- Space Force. The Administration greatly appreciates that the Committee establishes an "Operations and Maintenance, Space Force" appropriation within the Department of Defense (DOD) for the first time and has provided the requested funding for the initial operations of the United States Space Force. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to complement the Committee's work by modifying Title 10 of the United States Code to establish the Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces in FY 2020."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 7, 2019 9:06 PM.

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