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Summary (NASA Sections) FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

"The bill's $18 billion investment in NASA balances the portfolio of science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments. Moreover, it will keep NASA in the forefront of innovation, inspiring private companies to build new crew transportation and fueling a new satellite servicing industry that can revive, refuel and rejuvenate defunct communications satellites. The amount provided for NASA is $364 million more than the fiscal year 2014 enacted level."

AIP FYI: FY 2015 Appropriations: NASA

"Congress is nearing completion of the FY 2015 appropriations cycle. The House and Senate are scheduled to complete action on a $1.1trillion bill providing funding through September 30, 2015 for all departments and agencies with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security that will be funded through early 2015. The bill has not been printed in final form. The section on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is found on PDF pages 42-48, with a funding table on PDF page 68. Note that language in the previous House and Senate appropriations reports stands unless modified by language in the conference report."

Before NASA Pioneers Mars, Orion Spacecraft Faces Tests, PBS NewsHour

Presidential Science Adviser John Holdren: (8:28): "I don't think that the current budgets amount to kicking the can down the road. They amount to - within reasonable limits - getting done the steps that we need to achieve in order, ultimately, to get to Mars. Eventually, yes, between now and the 2030s, we would need to ramp up the budget. At the current budgets we would not get to Mars, that's correct."

Statement by John P. Holdren on the Successful Test Launch and Recovery of the Orion Spacecraft

"We congratulate the men and women of NASA and their commercial partners for this successful test launch, and we look forward to future milestones on the journey to Mars."

NASA FY 2014 Agency Financial Report"Audit of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Statements (IG-15-006, November 14, 2014) The Office of Inspector General contracted with the independent public accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to audit NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2014 financial statements. PwC performed the audit in accordance with the Government Accountability Office's Government Auditing Standards and the Office of Management and Budget's Bulletin No. 14-02, "Audit Requirements for Federal Financial Statements."

Keith's note: Much of this report was assembled rather sloppily starting with page 107. It gets really bad starting on page 147. The words are not words - just fuzzy images of text - not actual text. its like they scanned a document that had been copied 5 or 6 times and then faxed. I'd be willing to bet that large portions of this document are not Section 508 compliant. Things improve after page 160. You'd think that NASA would spend a little more time to make the document legible. in addition, due to the fact that a substantial portion of this report is not text searchable - and that the fuzzy text pictures almost certainly cannot be run through an OCR program, there are certain Open Government non-compliance issues as well.

NASA's 2014 Top Management and Performance Challenges

"NASA Inspector General Paul Martin today released the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) annual report discussing the most serious management and performance challenges facing NASA. The underlying theme of this year's report is sustainability. Specifically, the OIG noted that NASA's ability to sustain its ambitious exploration, science, and aeronautics programs will be driven in large measure by whether the Agency is able to adequately fund such high-profile initiatives as its commercial cargo and crew programs, Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, James Webb Space Telescope, Mars 2020 Rover, and associated personnel and infrastructure."

Congress Passes CR but Postpones Work on Space Bills, Space News

"The U.S. Senate passed a short-term funding bill for the federal government Sept. 18, one day after the House of Representatives passed the same bill, but both houses delayed consideration of several space-related bills, in some cases until the next Congress."

Budget Stalled, Again

Republicans Prep Short-Term Funding to Keep Government Open Through Election Day, National Journal

"Abandoning all pretense of the House and Senate agreeing on appropriations bills on time, House GOP leaders are tentatively planning to vote next week on a resolution keeping the government temporarily funded at current levels beyond the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year--and probably past Election Day."

Marc's note: Here we go again. Thanks to Jeff Foust for the tip.

OIG: Audit of the NASA's Fiscal Year 2013 Financial Statements

"The audit resulted in an unmodified opinion on NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2013 financial statements. An unmodified or "clean" audit opinion means that the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position and the results of the entity's operations in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles."

White House: NASA bill would raise costs, cause delays

"The Obama administration is concerned that a provision in a NASA funding bill being debated on the Senate floor this week would add costs and delays to the program that will replace the mothballed space shuttle with private rockets. As part of a $17.9 billion spending bill to fund NASA in fiscal year 2015, the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month approved the $805 million for the commercial crew program that will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station."

White House Statement of Policy H.R. 4660 - NASA Excerpt

"Commercial Crew Program. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Commercial Crew program, but has concerns about language that would seek to apply accounting requirements unsuitable for a firm, fixed-price acquisition, likely increasing the program's cost and potentially delaying its schedule."

Nelson Wants To Revisit Senate Appropriations Committee's Stricter Commercial Crew Oversight, SpaceNews

"Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) took to the Senate floor June 18 and tapped the brakes on a powerful appropriator's plan to subject NASA's commercial crew program to strict federal accounting standards the agency waived when it solicited bids for crew transportation in November."

Senate Appropriators Increase NASA Budget, Save SOFIA, Transfer Two Programs from NOAA to NASA, SpacePolicyOnline

"The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY2015 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill today. The bill would increase NASA's FY2015 budget by $439 million to $17.9 billion. While that figure is very similar to what the House approved, it would be allocated within NASA quite differently in some cases. Among the differences, the Senate committee would transfer two programs - Jason-3 and DSCOVR - to NASA from NOAA and increase NASA's earth science budget accordingly."

NASA budget bill could include a poison pill for SpaceX, other commercial companies

"With NASA under the thumb of the Russian space program, Congress continues to play political games with the space agency. On Thursday the U.S. Senate's Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the fiscal year 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. This means they agreed upon a spending plan to fund NASA, among other agencies.

But buried within the bill could be something of a poison pill for a company like SpaceX. Allow me to explain."

Scientists Finish Last-Ditch Plan to Save Infrared Spitzer Space Telescope, Space.com

"Spitzer likely can operate through 2018, Helou said. To get there, the project will have to trim its full-time staff, discontinue some engineering support services and cease efforts to make spacecraft operations more efficient, Helou said. There are about 45 full-timers on Spitzer now, including 27 at the Spitzer Science Center. The others are at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which is run by Caltech, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, California, which built the telescope."

Shutdown for Spitzer and MaxWISE?, earlier post

2014 NASA Astrophysics Senior Review

Spitzer: "Given the budget climate, the SRP cannot recommend funding of Spitzer at the levels requested. Should the mission be unable to operate given the levels of funding recommended through FY18, the mission should plan, in consultation with NASA HQ, for termination."

NASA Response to the 2014 Senior Review for Astrophysics Operating Missions

"Spitzer Space Telescope: The Spitzer mission extension for FY 2015 is not approved due to the constrained budget conditions and based on the findings and recommendations of the Senior Review report."

"Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE): The MaxWISE proposal was recommended for selection by the Senior Review. However, the only source of funding would be to displace funding from higher rated operating missions in the Senior Review. Due to constrained budget conditions, the MaxWISE proposal is declined."

Actions Needed to Improve Transparency and Assess Long-Term Affordability of Human Exploration Programs, GAO

"- The SLS estimate is based on the funding required to develop and operate the initial 70-metric ton variant through first flight in 2017 but not the costs for its second flight in 2021. NASA is now incurring some costs related to the second flight, but it is not currently tracking those costs for life cycle cost estimating purposes. Furthermore, the estimate does not include costs to incrementally design, develop, and produce future 105- and 130-metric ton SLS variants which NASA expects to use for decades. NASA is now funding concept development and analysis related to these capabilities.

- The Orion estimate does not include costs for production, operations, or sustainment of additional crew capsules, despite plans to use and possibly enhance this capsule after 2021. It also does not include $4.7 billion in prior costs incurred during the approximately 4 years when Orion was being developed as part of NASA's now-defunct Constellation program.

- The ground systems estimate excludes costs to develop or operate the ground systems infrastructure beyond 2017, although NASA intends to modify ground architecture to accommodate all SLS variants."

House FY 2015 NASA Appropriations Bill, AIP

"Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee released an unnumbered Full Committee Print to accompany the FY 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. This is a draft version of the committee report that is to be issued providing all-important language on the departments and agencies funded by this bill. This FYI reviews the National Aeronautics and Space Administration portion of the report."

Top Senate Appropriators Fault FY 2015 NASA Budget Request

"Administrator Bolden, we really do strongly disagree on this" Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said at last week's hearing on the FY 2015 NASA budget request for science programs. Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) was also critical as he questioned the "administration's level of commitment to a forward-thinking inspirational space program."

Wow, an Increase of $170 million for Planetary Exploration, Planetary Society

"The House would provide NASA with $1.45 billion for Planetary Science, which is $170 million above the White House request and an increase of $105 million over last year. This gets us to within spitting distance of The Planetary Society's recommended minimum of $1.5 billion per year for a healthy program, so we are quite pleased with this number!"

Rep. Adam Schiff - House Appropriations Bill Significantly Ups Planetary Science Funding

"I'm very pleased that the subcommittee has made such a strong investment in planetary science - one of the Crown Jewels of NASA's portfolio. With this funding increase, we will be able to keep Mars 2020 on track and begin an exciting new mission to Europa, two of the science community's highest priorities. We should also be able to continue the operation of craft that have exceeded their estimated lives but continue to produce valuable science."

NASA FY2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill Subcommittee Markup [Watch], SpaceRef Business

"The House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies marks up its fiscal year 2015 Appropriations bill on April 30, 2014. The bill contains $51.2 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies."

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Marks Up NASA Reauthorization

"The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4412) with unanimous bipartisan support. The bipartisan bill reaffirms Congress's commitment to space exploration, both human and robotic, and makes clear that human spaceflight to Mars is NASA's primary goal."

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Approves Bipartisan NASA Authorization Act

"The NASA Authorization Act of 2014 continues the consistent guidance Congress has given to NASA for nearly a decade by reaffirming a stepping stone approach to exploration in a go-as-you-can-afford-to-pay manner by developing an exploration roadmap. It supports the development on the Space Launch System and the Orion Crew Vehicle to push the boundaries of human exploration, and focuses NASA's efforts to develop a capability to access low Earth orbit and the International Space Station so that America can once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil."

NASA OIG: Space Communications and Navigation, NASA's Management of the Space Network

"... because of budget reductions and the loss of other expected revenue, in FY 2016 the Space Network will not have sufficient funding to meet all planned service commitments. Although NASA agreed to provide free access to Space Network services for some customers beginning in FY 2014 in exchange for their contributions to the design and development of two satellites several years earlier, the Agency failed to adequately plan for the resulting approximately $70 million per year in lost revenue. Consequently, the Space Network has a projected $63 million budget shortfall in FY 2016 and even larger estimated shortfalls in subsequent years."

NASA Hearings This Week

NASA's Extended Science Missions in Peril, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"We do not yet know how the Senior Review will turn out. NASA is famous for wanting to "move on" to the next thing and often abandons working spacecraft. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but as things currently stand, there isn't much in the mission pipeline to move on to. Planetary Science has taken several massive budgetary hits in the past few years, with more on the way. The termination of LRO and MER will not help move new missions off the drawing board. Money not spent on these extended missions will probably slide into SMD's Black Hole of Funding (the James Webb Space Telescope) or be dissipated on new paperwork, committee meetings and concept studies. It would be both fiscally prudent and programmatically responsible for NASA to fund and retain these working and still productive extended missions."

A Good Day at House Science: Subcommittee Approves Bipartisan NASA Authorization Bill, AIP

"In less than a half-hour this morning the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved a bipartisan bill that would establish important policy for NASA. In contrast to last year's markup of an authorization bill that stretched over five hours with many party line votes, the action this morning required just two voice votes, setting up this bill for action by the full committee."

House Space Subcommittee Approves Bipartisan NASA Authorization Act

"The Space Subcommittee today approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4412) with unanimous bipartisan support. The bill updates the previously committee-approved bill to reflect the funding agreement reached in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. The Subcommittee also approved a bipartisan Palazzo-Edwards amendment that ensures sustainability of purpose and budget for high-priority NASA programs."

This Way to Mars

International Cooperation a Focus of From Here to Mars Senate Hearing, SpaceRef

"If we're going to send Humans to Mars it should be an international effort where cooperation with the Russia and other partners is essential. However relations with Russia have taken a decided cold turn of late including barring NASA from working with Russian colleagues unless it's directly related to the International Space Station."

Marc's note: Includes testimony, audio of hearing and link to video archive.

NASA missions bid for extensions, Nature

"... like six other ongoing NASA missions studying the Moon, Mars and Saturn, Opportunity's money is due to run out at the end of the US fiscal year, on 30 September. Managers for each mission are trying to convince the agency to cough up continued funding, and their arguments are due on 11 April. A 'senior review' panel of external planetary scientists will rank the proposals' potential science return, and submit their suggestions to NASA headquarters for a final decision."

American Astronomical Society Statement on Proposed FY 2015 Budget

"At a time when space science is one of nation's brightest lights, delivering outstanding scientific discoveries and substantial public support, the President's proposed 3.5-percent cut for NASA's SMD is extremely worrying. We are particularly concerned by the 9 percent cut to the Astrophysics Division and the unanticipated decision to mothball a major mission outside the well-established senior review process. The AAS is also concerned about the imbalance within SMD given the inadequate funding for ongoing mission operations (including damaging cuts to major missions), flat or declining research and analysis grant funding, and the outlook for the Planetary New Frontiers and Heliophysics Explorer competed mission lines."

Planetary Society Decries NASA Science Cuts - Calls on Congress to Support Planetary Exploration

"NASA's planetary exploration is one-of-a-kind," said Casey Dreier, The Planetary Society's Director of Advocacy. "Our members know this, the public knows this, and we want to make sure that The White House knows this, too. We've had very strong support from key members of Congress, and we will depend on them once again to help preserve NASA's leadership in solar system exploration." Within two days of the Society's call, more than 20,000 messages of support have been sent to Congress, once again demonstrating the intense public support for this key NASA capability."

Hearing Charter

" ... A year after the introduction of this [Asteroid Retrieval] mission, the Administration still has not provided a detailed mission profile or budget proposal. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 required NASA to provide additional details about the mission concept before Congress would commit long-term resources to the effort."

Smith and Palazzo: NASA's Priority Should Be Space Exploration

"The President's budget again seeks to fund an Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM), a mission that experts and Congress have sharply criticized. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) highlighted testimony before the Committee by NASA Advisory Council Chairman, Dr. Steve Squyres, who said "I see no obvious connection between [ARM] and any of the technologies or capabilities that are required for Martian exploration."

Prepared Statement by Charles Bolden

"The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will enable NASA to test powerful Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) and integrated human/robotic vehicle operations in deep-space trajectories. Like the invaluable ISS, this mission will provide NASA with critical knowledge, experience and technologies for future human exploration missions deeper into space."

Subcommittee Reviews the NASA Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2015

"During her questions to General Bolden later in the hearing, Ms. Edwards emphasized the need for the Subcommittee to obtain a roadmap for a human mission to the surface of Mars accompanied by the analysis of the options for potential interim destinations."

Marc's Update: You can watch the hearing again if you missed it as we now have an archived copy on SpaceRef.

Hearing Charter

Statement by OSTP Director John Holdren: Hearing on FY2015 Science Budget

"Within the context of the Budget Control Act's spending caps, NASA's 2015 budget is $17.5 billion, a slight decrease from the 2014 enacted level."

Chairman Smith Statement on President's Science Budget

"And The White House's proposed asteroid retrieval mission is a mission without a budget, without a destination, and without a launch date. Rather than diminish NASA's space exploration mission, President Obama should set forth a certain, near-term, realizable goal for NASA's space exploration. "Many experts believe that a Mars Flyby mission launched in 2021 is a potentially worthy near-term goal. A human Mars mission would electrify the American public, excite American scientists, and inspire American students."

NASA FY 2015 President's Budget Request Summary

"In the FY 2015 President's Budget Request, NASA addresses the challenge of advancing U.S. leadership in space exploration, space and Earth science, and aeronautics in the current fiscal climate. In formulating this budget, projects and programs have been reviewed and their costs and benefits assessed to ensure the highest scientific return on the dollar."

NASA FY 2015 Budget - Commercial Crew is Investing in America, SpaceRef Business

"Early in his opening statement during the NASA teleconference on NASA's FY 2015 budget request, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden made it clear that reliance on the Russians for access to the International Space Station is choice Congress must choose to end.

Bolden said "budgets are about making choices, and let me clear about one thing, the choice here is between fully funding the request to bring space launches back to the U.S. or continuing millions in subsidies to the Russians, it's that simple. The Obama administration chooses investing in America. We believe Congress will choose this course as well."

On a day where tensions in Ukraine's Crimea only slighted abated, hammering on Congress about the choices they've made with respect to funding Commercial Crew budgeting in past years seemed appropriate. But was anybody listening?"

Did NASA Ground SOFIA?

Computing a Winner, Fusion a Loser in U.S. Science Budget, Science Insider

"A White House summary of NASA's budget notes that the savings achieved by reducing funding for SOFIA will enable "continued support for higher priority programs, including lower cost, competitive science missions, and extended operations for the Cassini Saturn mission." A more detailed presentation of the space agency's budget proposal, unveiled this afternoon by NASA, says the agency is in talks with its German partner to determine the best path forward for SOFIA."

Keith's note: In a NASA FY 2015 press event today I noted the Inspiration Mars/Mars 2021 Flyby congressional hearing last week and how Dennis Tito is asking NASA to pay for a SLS/Orion mission to Mars. Based on the Inspiration Mars 2021 mission date, and all existing SLS/Orion plans, Tito's plan would require the very first SLS/Orion flight with humans to go on this mission to Mars. I asked Bolden if, as Administrator, he'd approve such a mission - one that would require such a mission on the very first flight. Bolden simply refused to answer and babbled on instead about other things that had nothing to do with the question. It is hard to tell if Bolden did not understand the question, did not want to answer the question, or did not know how to answer the question.

NASA Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Briefing Now a Teleconference

"Because of inclement weather in the Washington area, NASA's Fiscal Year 2015 budget media briefing on Tuesday, March 4 now will be a teleconference. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will brief reporters starting at 2 p.m. EST."

OMB Summary of NASA FY 2015 Budget Request

"Provides $17.5 billion in discretionary funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by prioritizing the research and development that lays the foundation for future long-term growth and exploration, as well as the key commercial partnerships that will enable the efficient long-term operations of the International Space Station."

Detailed NASA Budget, OMB

Cooke: America needs a plan for space exploration, Opinion, Houston Chronicle

"Through logical progression and meaningful missions, I believe Americans will be motivated to support appropriate but reasonable budgets, that are commensurate with the value of the plan and the work needed to accomplish it. We cannot afford to delay or prolong the debate, because timing is critical to catch the unique planetary alignment that makes the first step possible in 2021."

Keith's note: Once again Doug Cooke is incapable and/or unwilling to give budget estimates. But he knows enough, so it would seem, to state that everyone will accept these "reasonable" costs. He never says that NASA's budget will need to be increased substantially in order to do this Mars flyby with SLS/Orion. Does that mean he will take the funds from elsewhere? Flying a mission to Mars in 2021 means that NASA needs to start on this yesterday - and its current and projected budgets will simply not allow SLS/Orion/Mars flyby and ISS to be fully supported simultaneously. Clearly ISS will bear the brunt of the obvious budget reconfiguration. He is saving the sticker shock for later.

Cooke also neglects to mention that he is a Boeing consultant (they are heavily involved in SLS) and that he advises Dennis Tito's Inspiration Mars project - where this whole flyby thing began.

Letter from Rep. Wolf and Smith To NASA About Mars Flyby 2021

"Last year the Administration championed an Asteroid Mission as a next step. However, the mission was not vetted by NASA's own advisory committees or the stakeholder community before it was presented formally to Congress. Upon review, a majority of experts said that such a mission did not demonstrate sufficient technical applicability to an eventual Mars landing."

Keith's note: This is beyond hilarious. It is pathetic. Lamar Smith (upon the advice of Mike Griffin's former staff on both sides of the dais) did not like Constellation's cancellation so they immediately dismiss whatever this White House and NASA puts forward. They claim "a majority of experts" (who are they?) agree with them. So what do they do? They take a multi-millionaire's ever-changing Powerpoint presentation (with no cost estimates) that NASA is expected to pay for with additional money no one has identified, and hold a hearing with NASA specifically banned - and no contrary opinions allowed.

But wait: this Mars flyby concept is also "not vetted by NASA's own advisory committees or the stakeholder community" (their main complaint about the asteroid mission). But that doesn't stop the contradictory hypocrisy on the part of Lamar Smith, Frank Wolf et al. They just direct NASA to study it. It should be obvious that whatever NASA says will be unacceptable by this committee. But who cares?

Then you see Republican NASA Administrator-in-waiting Scott Pace pontificating about what a space policy should be i.e. a bigger picture with missions selected to implement the grand plan. In fact Pace is saying that he wants to see this specific mission happen and that a space policy should then be crafted after the fact to justify it. He's got his own ideas about space policy backward. Again, who cares?

Isn't that the problem NASA/Congress/White House has had for the past 30+ years? They keep changing their mind about what they want NASA to do - and complain about what it is doing - but then go off and do something new anyway. Then they change the rules to justify what they have already done. And then just as they change the rules (or some big problem erupts) someone changes what NASA should be doing and the idiotic cycle starts all over again. And this process is fueled by partisan hearings that are actually pre-staged puppet shows with everything scripted toward a desired partisan outcome.

You can get neck damage trying to watch things swing back and forth. Imagine trying to distill a cogent, long-term policy from all of this. It is clearly impossible. Yet all of these half-baked, ever-changing ideas absolutely require a long-term bipartisan, multi-administration commitment in order to happen.

Whiplash is no way to explore space. Small wonder other countries are nipping at our heels. We make it so easy for them to do.

- Dennis Tito's Congressional Infomercial - in 5 Tweets, earlier post
- The Band of Brothers Wants a Mars Flyby, earlier post

NASA Officials to Discuss Fiscal Year 2015 Budget

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2015 budget at 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 4, from Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson and Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese will join Bolden. The news briefing will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Following the news briefing, journalists in attendance at Goddard will have a media opportunity with the associate administrators of NASA's mission directorates. This will not be carried on NASA TV and is only available to media at Goddard."

Keith's note: In other words unless news media representatives are physically present at one NASA field center (not at NASA HQ) they will not be allowed to talk to AAs about the various Directorate and mission budgets. Apparently NASA GSFC does not have the technical sophistication to set up a few phone lines. Nor will the taxpaying public be able to hear what they have to say. This is an excellent way to make it harder for the media and therefore the public to learn about the budget. Also, you can expect Charlie Bolden to disappear before its time for the media to ask questions. That is what he does every year. But NASA will want everyone to support this budget none the less. So much for openness and transparency.

Dueling NASA Flagships?

The Final Frontier's Financial Limits, NY Times

"The Obama administration, which proposed deep cuts in the planetary sciences budget the past two years, could also ask for more money for 2015. "The administration remains committed to operating the pathbreaking Cassini and Curiosity missions as long as they keep passing these rigorous reviews," said Phillip Larson, a White House space policy adviser. "If we keep one going, that doesn't mean we have to cancel the other." The administration's budget request is likely to be disclosed in late February or early March."

- Bolden: No More Flagship Missions (Update: Bolden Flip Flops), earlier post

Continued Victories for Planetary Exploration, Planetary Society

"The book is not closed on 2014. Now that NASA has its money, it has to spend it. It does this through its operating plan, where the agency can make minor adjustments to project funding based on programmatic needs. Last year NASA abused this process and tried to shift all additional money allocated for Planetary Science by Congress to unrelated projects. I feel that this is unlikely to happen again, but it's something that we will be watching closely. I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes you have to ensure that NASA spends planetary money on planetary projects."

The big problem with the "big win" for NASA's exploration program budget, Houston Chronicle

"Sen. Bill Nelson, who chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA, and bills himself as "one of the leading architects of a plan to build a new monster rocket and crew capsule for deep space exploration," said of the plan, "This is a big win." NASA's administrator, Charles Bolden, also praised the budget deal. This is the same Nelson who along with other congressional leaders and the White House agreed on a budget plan to fund and build the SLS and Orion during the summer of 2010 (see authorizing legislation). In that bill Congress called, for example, in fiscal year 2013 to fund the SLS rocket at a level of $2.64 billion. It received significantly less than that in fiscal year 2013. And one would presume funding along those lines, or more, would be needed as the SLS rocket program was building up toward a 2017 test launch. So what did the government give NASA in the new budget for fiscal year 2014? $1.6 billion."

Keith's note: Let's see what the FY 2015 Budget looks like. Those projects that benefited from the FY 2014 budget may see different news in a few weeks. And some projects that did not benefit in FY 2014 may well do even worse in FY 2015. Alas, everyone seems to be parroting the buzz phrase "flat is the new up". When your budget is supposed to be ramping up, "flat" is a budget cut folks.

Once the dust settles is will become clear that there is still not enough money for everything. Congress is going to fund SLS/Orion no matter what the White House or NASA wants them to do and they will raid commercial crew and technology budgets to do so. And when Congress realizes that even more money for SLS is needed it will go back and take more. The asteroid mission is one step away from dead as far as Congress is concerned. Commercial crew is substantially underfunded and will not be able to continue at NASA's advertised pace of flying its first crew in 2017. And despite all of this, the space science crowd thinks that they are somehow immune from these pressures and should be given more money. They are in for a shock.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation Applauds Passage of Bill Providing Funding for Commercial Programs and Renewal of Government Risk-Sharing

"The bill funds NASA's Commercial Crew Program at $696 million, a significant increase from FY13. "With this bill's strong Commercial Crew funding, Congress has acknowledged the importance of quickly developing a U.S. system to carry American astronauts and reduce our dependence on aging Russian infrastructure," said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. "We applaud Congress for recognizing the importance of a robust U.S. space program and, in particular, an organic capability to provide human access to Low-Earth Orbit."

Keith's note: "strong Commercial Crew funding"? What CSF seems to not comprehend is the fact that the $696M in this budget is $125 million less than the $821M White House asked for in FY 2014. When you take into consideration that of this $696M, $171M is not being given to NASA anytime soon (unless they produce the ISS report that Congress requires), then NASA will only have $525M in FY 2014. $525M is $296M less than the White House asked for i.e. a one-third cut in what was requested.

In FY 2014 budget hearings last year Charlie Bolden was clear that if he did not get the $821M that the White House asked for in FY 2014 then having a commercial crew capability in 2017 was not going to happen. In addition, the NASA OIG noted in a report that previous cuts in commercial crew budgets have already forced a slip from 2015 to 2017. One would assume that future budget shortfalls would have a similar consequence.

No matter how you slice this, NASA is not getting the $821M that was the basis for the line in the sand drawn by Charlie Bolden last year with regard to the FY 2014 budget. Neither $696M or $525M is even close. If Bolden was accurate when he made these public statements, then as soon as the President signs this budget bill into law, NASA needs to be sending notification to Congress, per Bolden's statement, that 2017 is off the table. If not, then you have to question whether NASA can back up any of its statements with regard to what it needs for large projects - SLS, JWST, etc.

NASA Chief:Commercial Crew Safe from Sequester, for Now, Space News

"If we aren't able to get up to the $800 million level [FY 2014], then I will have to come back and officially notify the Congress that we cannot make 2017 for availability of commercial crew," Bolden said at that hearing."

NASA IG Warns on Commercial Crew as NASA Celebrates End of COTS, SpacePolicyOnline

"The OIG did not make any recommendations on the issue of unstable funding, but noted that for FY2011-2013, NASA received only 38 percent of its requested funding for the program, resulting in a delay from FY2015 to FY2017 of the first expected commercial crew flight. "The combination of a future flat-funded profile and lower-than-expected levels of funding over the past 3 years may delay the first crewed flight beyond 2017 and closer to 2020, the current expected end of the operational life of the ISS." The report includes the following table showing NASA's successive 5-year budget projections for the commercial crew program beginning in FY2009."

- Charlie Bolden Has His Head In The Sand Again, earlier post
- Confusion on "Pretty Darn Good" Statement from OSTP, earlier post
- Commercial Crew Transportation Capability RFP Released, earlier post
- NASA OIG Report on Commercial Crew Program, earlier post

NASA Receives Bi-Partisan Support for Budget, Exploration Plan
 
"This appropriations bill reaffirms support for the bi-partisan space exploration plan agreed to by the President and Congress. The bill keeps NASA's deep space exploration program (the Space Launch System and Orion) on track and provides funding to formulate the agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission, an important stepping stone on the path to Mars.  The bill also provides funding for our plan to return American space launches to the U.S., ground-breaking scientific discoveries, game-changing technologies and cutting-edge research into cleaner and quieter airplanes.  The $17.6 billion provided in this measure will continue to spur American innovation and keep the U.S. the world leader in space exploration."

Keith's note: Contrary to Charlie Bolden's happy thoughts (he and Rich DalBello have been talking, it would seem), commercial space is strongly hampered by this bill while SLS and Orion are clearly the agency's most important projects - even if they have no approved destination or funded payloads. Congress really does not like the Asteroid Redirect mission and has tried to kill it more than once. Congress has also has cut the new technologies needed to get humans to Mars and elsewhere, and has left the planetary program on a slow road to decline. But Charlie is happy.

- Confusion on "Pretty Darn Good" Statement from OSTP

Keith's note: Um, I wonder why DalBello (OSTP Assistant Director for Aeronautics and Space) would say this budget is "pretty darn good"? Among other things, the Administration's request for commercial crew is gutted ($821M requested, $696M offered). At this pace NASA most certainly won't make the 2017 date.

Moreover, NASA can't touch $171M of that $696M until it does a study that certifies that the commercial crew program "has undergone an independent benefit-cost analysis that takes into consideration the total Federal investment in the commercial crew program and the expected operational life of the International Space Station." Guess what: the expected life of the ISS was just extended to 2024 and may take years for all the partners to agree to this. How can NASA possibly make this certification to Congress until everyone is on board with this new extension (or has decided not to continue) - something that won't happen until several years from now? As such, that $171M is going to be in limbo for years - so NASA only has $525M to work with on commercial crew for FY14.

Also, this Omnibus bill only funds space technology at $576M. The White House asked for $742M. The bill has made certain that SLS/Orion funding cannot be touched for anything other than SLS/Orion. So ... where is all the new technology everyone is clamoring for going to come from? And where are the payloads that will fly on Orion and SLS going to come from (the asteroid mission is in limbo too)?

But Rich DalBello thinks it is "pretty darn good".

Appropriators Release FY2014 Omnibus Bill, NASA Does Well, Space Policy Online

"It may not be the full enchilada, but NASA did pretty well all things considered in the proposed FY2014 omnibus appropriations bill released tonight (January 13). Assuming approval by the House, Senate and President, NASA will get $17.6 billion for FY2014, not that much less than its $17.7 billion request.  Under some scenarios, NASA could have gotten as little as $16.1 billion, so this is a tremendous improvement."

The Obama Legacy in Planetary Exploration, opinion, Mark Sykes, Space.com

"Now, the Obama Administration is preparing to go after the seed corn of the U.S. solar-system exploration program: its planetary research and analysis programs. Actions to be implemented over the next couple of months will have their primary impact in 2015, when many planetary scientists (primarily younger members of the community) will be forced to find other employment and careers -- and many will not wait. This loss of critical manpower and capability cannot be restored overnight. It will take a generation. ... This restructuring is occurring at the direction of NASA Planetary Division Director James Green. There is no immediate need for it."

- NASA's Starvation Diet For Planetary Science, earlier post
- SMD Planetary Town Hall: Time For Planetary Scientists To Job Hunt, earlier post
- NASA's FY 2015 Budget Process Is About To Get Nasty
- NASA Town Hall, AAS meeting, Tuesday, 7 January 2013, 12:45pm-1:45pm, Potomac Ballroom A

NASA's Planetary Science Shift Rattles Researchers, Science

"Jim Green, the head of NASA's Planetary Science Division, shook things up for planetary scientists this week by announcing a restructuring that will change how the division funds grant proposals. ... That's why some researchers--including Mark Sykes, director of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona--have been railing against the restructuring on Twitter and in the blogosphere. Sykes says the change Green has made is ill-considered because it doesn't take into account the impact on the workforce. "There are many people whose research programs and salaries depend upon successfully proposing to several major programs in 2014," Sykes says. "They have just learned that there will be no opportunity for these programs until 2015. I have had several people tell me that if there is no regular ... call at the regular time in 2014, they will have to look for other employment in a year. There are postdocs whose positions are ending this next year, who would have applied to these programs to get started as independent planetary scientists. They need to find something else to do."

When it comes to planetary science will NASA soon stand for NADA?, Houston Chronicle

"Let's start with a town hall meeting (watch it here) that occurred on Tuesday during which NASA's $1.2 billion planetary science division announced a restructuring of how it funds research and analysis. Restructuring is a nice euphemism here. Due to budget cuts, in essence, NASA officials announced that it would not seek new research grant submissions in 2014."

NASA funding shuffle alarms planetary scientists, Nature

"But at the town-hall meeting, NASA's Jonathan Rall said that funding proposals in this field are not likely to be due until February 2015. That was the last straw for many researchers who live from grant to grant, because most of their existing funding is likely to expire well before money becomes available for the new Solar System workings area. Outraged scientists vented their frustration in the comments section of the meeting website and on Twitter. "People are upset with not knowing where their next paycheck is going to come from, how they're going to pay the mortgage," says Schmidt."

Comments Transcript: NASA Planetary Science Division Research and Analysis Program Restructuring Virtual Town Hall

"Michael H. New: [personal, non-official, comment] The degree to which the field shrinks is driven by the budget and the number of hard-money positions available. Regardless of how PSD's solicitations are organized, when the budget is flat and there are few hard-money positions available, people will be forced to leave the field. [end]"

(Update) SMD Planetary Town Hall: Time For Planetary Scientists To Job Hunt, Earlier post

NASA Planetary Science Division Research and Analysis Program Restructuring Virtual Town Hall

"The Planetary Science Division announces a virtual town hall presenting the Research and Analysis Program Restructuring. The town hall will be held on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm (EST). A presentation by Jonathan Rall will be followed by a question/answer period. The town hall will be live-streamed with participation available to anyone having Internet access."

Keith's note: Follow comments on Twitter in real time here

Keith's note: From the comments section: "Michael H. New: [personal, non-official, comment] The degree to which the field shrinks is driven by the budget and the number of hard-money positions available. Regardless of how PSD's solicitations are organized, when the budget is flat and there are few hard-money positions available, people will be forced to leave the field. [end]"

New also posted this: "Michael H. New: Do you want us to predict the number of funded PIs in FYxx? A very, very, rough estimate is to take your favorite R&A budget estimate and divde by $125,000 which is not a bad approximation for the overall average annual award size. This estimate, of course, ignores all year-to-year variations in the actual budget and how that propagates from year-to-year."

NASA Statement on Planetary Research and Analysis Restructuring

"The following is a statement from NASA's Planetary Director Jim Green on Tuesday's virtual town hall meeting with the planetary scientific community. During the afternoon call, he outlined and answered questions about the proposed agency restructuring plans to consolidate some of the supporting research and technology activities to ensure a balanced planetary science portfolio for the next decade."

Comments Transcript: NASA Planetary Science Division Research and Analysis Program Restructuring Virtual Town Hall

"NASAWATCH: Is SMD management reading what the Twitterverse is saying about this Town Hall? Audience of followers exceeds 100,000 and includes journalists."

Cassini vs. Curiosity: Who Will Suffer the Space Budget Axe?, Wired

"NASA could soon be facing an awful choice. The agency, feeling a budgetary squeeze from Congress, might not be able to fund all its robotic planetary exploration missions after next year. This year NASA received $16.9 billion, which may sound like a lot but, once adjusted for inflation, is roughly what the agency got back in 1986. Just $1.27 billion of that budget goes into funding all robotic exploration in the solar system. And most space policy experts don't see that number going up anytime in the near future. In 2014, NASA will put many of its robotic missions through what's known as a senior review. Administrators will have to decide which of its missions will yield the highest scientific return and may recommend canceling some of them."

Action alert!, Division for Planetary Sciences

"This week we are asking each of you to write letters and make phone calls to advocate for planetary science. This DPS members call to action is being coordinated with a simultaneous call to action for the planetary section members of AGU and GSA, so we have many planetary scientists to draw upon. Please participate regardless of whether you think your Members of Congress care about science or are on the "right" committees. What's most important is getting as many people to contact as many Members as possible. And we encourage you to use social media to promote this call to action to help amplify the message and encourage others to act."

Earlier budget posts

Gloomy Budget News for SMD

Hertz Paints Bleak Near-Term Outlook for NASA Astrophysics Division if Sequester Continues, Space PolicyOnline

"NASA Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz painted a bleak picture of NASA's FY2014 astrophysics budget today and forecast a future filled with uncertainty. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may be secure, but the rest of NASA's astrophysics program could have tough sailing ahead. Hertz stressed that the country spends quite a bit of money on NASA's astrophysics portfolio - a total of $1.3 billion "and you can't plead poverty when there's $1.3 billion on the table." Roughly half of that is for JWST, however, which is managed separately from the rest of NASA's astrophysics programs."

Another year of sequestration would delay NASA missions, USA Today

"NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said Thursday that the agency was still assessing the impact of another year of sequestration and its "stifling constraints." Even holding at fiscal 2013 levels would be problematic because it's about $850 million less than the president's request. That would mean deep cuts in space technology, "the seed corn that allows the nation to conduct ever more capable and affordable space missions," Beutel said. It also would impede NASA's Commercial Crew Program to use private companies to carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017."

The Government Shutdown Was Temporary, Its Damage to Science Permanent, Scientific American

"In many ways the federal government shutdown was a huge, unplanned experiment in what happens when we give up on science for two weeks. The experiment is now over and the results are still incomplete. But so far, they are ugly."

Shutdown's science fallout could last for years, Politico

"Even if the government opens tomorrow, a significant amount of damage has been done," said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, a nonprofit advocating for science-minded agencies. "This isn't about a few people who can't go to the labs like they're on vacation or something. The whole research enterprise depends on operating 24/7."

Science Gets a Cameo in U.S. Shutdown Vote, Science

"The day before the decisive vote, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), threw a rhetorical double-punch, linking concerns about home-state and international impacts in a plea to end the shutdown. Some "97 percent of NASA employees in Cleveland and Sandusky in northern Ohio have been furloughed," he noted, while Ohio's academic scientists were worried about their grants. "If you are a research scientist ... [and] see these interruptions, if you are furloughed for 3 weeks in October 2013 and then again some time next year ... the most talented researchers are going to walk away, and we are going to lose so much of the edge we have in this country."

Congressman Brooks Introduces Legislation to Restore NASA Funding and Workforce

"Today Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) introduced legislation to fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Fiscal Year 2014. This legislation is consistent with Congressman Brooks' efforts to return furloughed personnel to work following the government shutdown."

Stockman introduces Keep NASA Open Act to shield Agency from shutdown

"Congressman Steve Stockman Wednesday joined Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) to introduce the Keep NASA Open Act. The bill would guarantee NASA functions would continue to be funded should an agreement to fund the government not be reached soon."

Keith's note: Both Brooks and Stockman voted to shut the government down - so they were both for shutting NASA down - before they were against it. But wait - according to this press release from Rep. Stockman last week "Stockman's office meets with JSC employees to support restoring NASA funding" he said "Our calls from JSC employees this week are about nine to one in favor of standing strong against Obama's budget." So, if he was accurate - last week - then he should still be for shutting NASA down - this week - right?

Former NASA Managers Call for More Spending Despite Crunch, Space News

"Among those who spoke at the von Braun symposium was one of Constellation's chief architects, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. Griffin, who ran NASA from 2005 to 2009, scoffed at the idea that NASA is operating in a budget-constrained environment. "We are in a willpower-constrained environment," said Griffin, who is now the Huntsville-based chairman and chief executive of science and engineering services contractor Schafer Corp. Griffin noted that 50 years of NASA spending, adjusted for inflation, was approximately equivalent to the roughly $800 billion stimulus bill signed into law in February 2009. Meanwhile, Cooke and another former NASA manager took shots at the "flat-is-the-new-up" mantra that has become prevalent among government-relations executives in Washington in the age of across-the-board sequestration budget cuts."

Impact of the Federal Shutdown on Private Industry and the Nation: The NASA-Johnson Space Center Experience, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

"Before the shutdown, JSC had approximately 3,200 federal employees and 11,000 private sector employees supporting its human spaceflight and exploration mission. As a result of the shutdown, JSC is closed, except for 100 federal and a very limited number of contractor employees who support the International Space Station's operations, which have been deemed critical, or in fed-speak 'excepted services.' For a company, the shutdown means that contract work stops. Employees who work in a federal facility are already home. Employees who work on a contract off JSC property will be furloughed as the respective contracts run out of money. That means about 20% of the 11,000 private sector company employees are furloughed now. About 60% will be furloughed by mid October. Over 90% will be furloughed by November 1. If the shutdown continues, an additional 10,000 people will not have a paycheck. Dozens of companies will have been severely weakened, and an entire support community of small service businesses will be damaged as their customer base erodes. These businesses include, but are not limited to, small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned and service disabled businesses. The short-term harm to workers and their families is incalculable. The longer-term harm to the companies is just beginning to be understood."

NASA researchers protest government shutdown, Palo Alto Online

"I'm supposed to be looking for planets, but I'm not," said Kepler mission scientist Natalie Batalha, whose words inspired the crowd to began chanting, "We love Kepler! We want Kepler!" She added that she would even volunteer her time to continue her work, but she can't. The crowd also cheered for Brian Day, EPO lead for LADDEE, the lunar atmosphere and dust environment explorer, when he said LADDEE had "just entered orbit around the moon." "It's a very interesting story and unfortunately we aren't telling it," he said. "Normally I'd be trying to prevent foreign countries from trying to hack into our data but I'm not doing that right now," said cyber-security expert Matt Linton. He said a "skeleton crew" was still doing that work, but that it would be "insufficient" in the longer term."

In limbo: Shutdown creates long-lasting impacts for NASA's JSC, Houston Business Journal

"At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, only about 100 of the 3,150 civil servants regularly employed at the center are not furloughed. Hundreds more local contractors working with NASA have been furloughed and more contractor furloughs could come any day, said Tim Budzik, managing director of the Houston Technology Center's JSC campus."

Stockman's office meets with JSC employees to support restoring NASA funding

"Our calls from JSC employees this week are about nine to one in favor of standing strong against Obama's budget."

Keith's note: Rep. Stockman voted to shut the government down in the first place - and now he claims that 90% of JSC employees supported that vote?

NASA Will Face Solomon's Choice in 2014, Dennis Wingo

"If a budget in the range of $16.6 billion is what happens NASA will have a major problem maintaining both the International Space Station (ISS) and the SLS/Orion Exploration program. Given that the funds are simply not going to be available to keep the ISS alive and functioning and to fully construct and operate the SLS/Orion system, something has to give. Are we going to have to kill one to insure the other's survival? That is the choice that that is presenting itself - a clear recipe for disaster as far as NASA's human space flight plans are concerned."

NASA on Pause

Science and the shutdown and a lonely birthday for NASA, PBS News Hour

"If a satellite mission has not yet been launched, work will generally cease on that project," NASA's shutdown plan reads. "The extent of support necessary and the time needed to safely cease project activities will depend on whether any of the activities are of a hazardous nature (e.g., parts of the satellite may need to be cooled)." Work preparing for the Mars MAVEN mission, which was slated for a Nov. 18 launch, for example, has stopped, and could delay the craft's planned mission to Mars."

NASA Hit by Government Shutdown, National Geographic

"Elsewhere at the space agency, the effects of the shutdown will become worse over time, says Keith Cowing of NASA Watch: "If they only lose a few days, then we lose a week of work, but over time there will be a satellite that has a problem or a design change that doesn't get fixed in time and we will see real impacts."

Government shutdown: NASA turns 55 - and turns out the lights, Christian Science Monitor

"Due to government shutdown, we will not be posting or responding from this account. Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves," tweeted the operators of NASA's Voyager 2's Twitter account, last night. Meanwhile, the agency's planning for future missions - where to land the next mission on Mars; which asteroid to lasso; and what to do with a future lander on Europe - has gone quiet. The shutdown will put some 97 percent of NASA's staffers on un-paid leave: just 549 of the agency's employees are expected to work, out of its some 18,250 staffers."

NASA Shutdown Is Underway

Statement by the President

"NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the Space Station."

NASA Planning for a Lapse in Appropriations Update, NASA Memo

"If a FY 2014 continuing resolution is not passed before 12:01 AM on October 1, NASA can only engage in activities related to the orderly shutdown of operations and performance of excepted activities. As a required part of a shutdown, employees who will not be performing activities excepted by law will be furloughed and unable to work for the duration of the shutdown, unless recalled for an excepted activity."

NASA Internal Memo: Planning for Potential Lapse in Appropriations

"However, prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month. A lapse would mean that a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding. It would also mean that a number of employees would be temporarily furloughed. To prepare for this possibility, we are working with our General Counsel and our Chief Financial Officer to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations."

OMB Memo: Planning for Agency Operations during a Potential Lapse in Appropriations

NASA Ames Federal Employees Union Memo: Potential Shutdown Looming Yet Again

"With the turmoil of the DOI snafu and its 4-day delay in paychecks fresh on our minds, you need to be acutely aware that a shutdown could have a much bigger financial impact on you and your family, especially given that we would not likely receive retroactive pay as we did after the shutdowns of the 1990's.  Please act accordingly and keep some funds in reserve, if you possibly can."

NASA officials talk challenges, and thrills, of capturing an asteroid, LA Times

"Having trouble getting excited about NASA's planned mission to redirect an asteroid? Maybe William Gerstenmaier can help. "Turn off your logical side and turn on your touchy-feely side, the one you almost never use," Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, told attendees of an aeronautics and astronautics conference Wednesday in San Diego. "Then jump up and down and do some break-dancing. We're going to grab a space rock and we're going to move it!"

Keith's update: Response from HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier to NASAWatch: "We provided an hour on technical details, reasons and logic for the asteroid mission. The mission fits well with expanding experience in beyond low earth orbit. We showed charts that show how this mission supports Mars. We also had discussions on this mission supporting commercial asteroid activities. The logic, rational, and feasibility were covered in a detailed manner. I added a flip comment at the end. This is predominately what the LA times picked up. They might have understood the humor intended. The web cast and briefing show the thoughts and work that the teams have put into a very creditable mission. Other articles capture the technical discussions and logical points well."

Keith's 12 Sep note: This is typical of NASA's increasingly baffling asteroid mission PR strategy. Since no one at NASA (starting with Charlie Bolden) is able to give a clear reason why NASA wants to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to go grab an asteroid and move it to lunar orbit, they just skip "the logical side" and go for "the touchy-feel side". Now they want you to just "jump up and do some break-dancing". In other words, don't worry - be happy.

JWST, Commercial Crew Spared Cuts in NASA FY2013 Operating Plan, Space Policy Online

"With only six weeks left in FY2013, Congress and the Obama Administration finally reached agreement on NASA's FY2013 operating plan that details how the agency will spend the money appropriated by Congress. Although the agency was subject to across-the-board cuts of about 7 percent that were to be applied proportionately to all its activities, at least two projects were spared those cuts -- the commercial crew program and the James Webb Space Telescope."

Finally, an FY13 NASA Planetary Budget, Just 11 Months Late, Planetary Society

"The FY13 budget approval was especially messy this year because Congress failed to pass a final budget until last spring (around six months late). The budget was then automatically cut through a process known as the Sequester. The Administration then reportedly proposed larger cuts to the planetary program to spare other parts of the NASA budget the effects of the Sequester. Congress reportedly rejected that division of cuts, resulting in negotiations and the final budget supplied to Space Policy Online.

Videoconference providers see uptick in federal demand, Washington Post

"NASA, for instance, estimates that it will reduce its travel costs by about $21 million for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Although not all the savings can be attributed to videoconferencing, "we do look to use that medium to allow our managers, scientists and engineers to be able to still participate in events when being there in person isn't possible," NASA spokesman Allan Beutel wrote in an e-mail. Last month, NASA held its first Google+ Hangout news briefing on its Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite. It "let our scientists present the IBEX mission's latest findings and answer questions from journalists and the public at the same time without having to travel to a certain place just to participate in the news conference," Beutel wrote."

Keith's note: Just as NASA is starting to get innovative in the whole world of virtual meetings, NASA also thought it was OK to fly a bunch of JPL folks to DC to go to receptions and briefings on Capitol Hill and the White House to mark the first anniversary of Curiosity on Mars. The rules are clearly not being applied equally.

- AIP Bulletin: Update on OMB Travel Restrictions, earlier post
- Growing Impact of Travel Restrictions, earlier post
- NASA Limits Travel; No Layoff Plans - yet (update), earlier post
- Bolden Cuts Travel; Buys Toy Telescope Models, earlier post

NRC Warns Landsat-Type Data Not Sustainable Under Current Practices, Space Policy Online

"The National Research Council (NRC) today issued its much-anticipated report on how to ensure continuity of Landsat-type land imaging data. The bottom line is that a sustained program is not viable under current mission development and management practices. Instead, the NRC calls for a "systematic and deliberate program" instead of the "historical pattern of chaotic programmatic support and ad hoc design and implementation of spacecraft and sensors" that has characterized the Landsat program to date.

... In short, the report calls for a "systematic and deliberate program with the goal of continuing to collect vital data within lower, well-defined, manageable budgets" to "replace the historical pattern of chaotic programmatic support and ad hoc design and implementation of spacecraft and sensors in the Landsat series.""

At anniversary of Curiosity landing, recommit to planetary science: Adam Schiff (D-CA), Op-Ed Los Angeles Daily News

"One might think that the latest round of draconian cuts are driven by reductions to the federal budget -- and, in turn, to NASA's budget -- necessary to reduce our debt and deficit. But that isn't the case. To the president's credit, NASA's overall budget hasn't been targeted and remains largely flat, a signal achievement when domestic discretionary spending is at its lowest levels since the Eisenhower Administration. Instead, time and again, deficit hawks in the Office of Management and Budget have targeted specific parts of the NASA portfolio for disproportionate cuts, and none more so than arguably the most successful of all NASA's recent achievements -- planetary science.

And for whatever reason, the "crown jewel" of the planetary science program, Mars, is in the crosshairs and the men and women of JPL know it. Last year, as a way to highlight the budget cuts, some workers hosted a bake sale, and in an effort to cut back non-essential programs and activities in the wake of sequestration, popular outreach programs like the JPL's annual open house have been cancelled, as have visits to classrooms and other educational activities."

Senate panel approves NASA bill that conflicts with House version, Florida Today

"A key Senate panel narrowly approved a bill reauthorizing NASA on Tuesday, setting up a showdown with the House over how much money the nation's space program should get to carry out its missions and which ones it should be allowed to execute.

The three-year bill, which now heads to the full Senate, would give the space agency $18.1 billion in fiscal 2014, $18.4 billion in fiscal 2015 and, $18.8 billion in fiscal 2016. NASA received $17.7 billion in fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the bill 13-12 along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed."

NASA Sees Enthusiastic Response to Asteroid Call for Ideas, NASA

"NASA has received more than 400 responses to its request for information (RFI) on the agency's asteroid initiative, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Friday.

"Under our plan, we're increasing the identification, tracking and exploration of asteroids, and the response to this initiative has been gratifying," said Garver, speaking at the Space Frontier Foundation's NewSpace 2013 conference in San Jose, Calif. "The aerospace industry, innovative small businesses and citizen scientists have many creative ideas and strategies for carrying out our asteroid exploration mission and helping us to protect our home planet from dangerous near-Earth objects."

Marc's updated note: Members of Congress have been very vocal about their desire that NASA should NOT proceed with the Asteroid Initiative, specifically the Asteroid Redirect Mission. Until Congress is reassured about the merits of the mission, it will be difficult for NASA to proceed.

House and Senate NASA FY14 appropriations comparison, Space Politics

"With the passage on Thursday of the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill by the full Senate Appropriations Committee, it's possible now to compare that bill's funding levels for various NASA accounts with the House version of the same bill and the administration's original fiscal year 2014 budget request (amounts below in millions of dollars)."

NASA Budget Reaction

House, Senate fund different paths for NASA, Florida Today

"Congressional votes on Thursday provided more evidence the Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate have fundamentally opposing views of the space program. Key committees in both chambers approved divergent paths for NASA that will have to reconciled later this year.

The difference is not just about money, though most lawmakers agree there's a significant gap between the $18 billion the Senate Appropriation Committee wants to give NASA in fiscal 2014 and the $16.8 billion authorized by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee."

Impasse: House Science Committee Approves NASA Reauthorization Bill on Party Line Vote, AIP

"We are just never going to agree on this," said Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) midway through an hours-long committee markup yesterday of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013. Grayson's comment reflected the deep-seated division between the Republican and Democratic members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee about the approach that should be taken to funding NASA, and in a larger sense, all federal agencies in coming years.

Yesterday's markup session of this bill to set policy and funding direction for the space agency for FY 2014 and FY 2015 started shortly before noon, and lasted until 5:30 PM, with the committee considering 35 amendments to the bill. In general, the deliberations were cordial, but decisions involving roll call votes were almost always along party lines."

Marc's note: At some point we'll have a compromise but it could be awhile.

Full Committee Markup - H.R. 2687, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2013, House Science Space & Technology

- Commercial Spaceflight Federation Statements on House Appropriations Committee NASA Budget
- Committee Approves Bill to Prioritize NASA's Missions
- Committee Republicans Set NASA up to Fail with Flawed Bill - Positive Democratic Alternative Defeated
- Statement by Rep. Edwards
- Statement by Rep. Johnson
- Statement of Rep. Palazzo: Full Committee Markup Of 2013 NASA Authorization
- Statement of Rep. Lamar Smith: Full Committee Markup Of 2013 NASA Authorization

Marc's note: Yesterday's long NASA Authorization Act of 2013 markup meeting, which was passed, included 35 amendments, available on the full page of this article, of which 10 amendments were approved, 3 withdrawn and 22 defeated. Of the 35 amendments put forward only 1 was by a Republican and was passed.

All of the substantial amendments put forward by the Democrats were defeated and only small changes were approved.

Of note for the historians out there, Representative Kennedy (D-Mass.), related to that other Kennedy, had his Amendment 004 passed which added the following paragraph to the Bill:

"The President should invite the United States partners in the International Space Station program and other nations, as appropriate, to participate in an international initiative under the leadership of the United States to achieve the goal of successfully conducting a crewed mission to the surface of Mars."

- Download or play audio of the Committee meeting. (173MB mp3 - Edited to 5 hours 2 minutes)

NASA's Appropriations Committee Markup, NASA Blog

"Today, the House Appropriations Committee is marking up legislation to provide 2014 appropriations for NASA. While we appreciate the support of the Committee, we are deeply concerned that the bill under consideration would set our funding level significantly below the President's request. This proposal would challenge America's preeminence in space exploration, technology, innovation, and scientific discovery. We are especially concerned the bill cuts funding for space technology - the "seed corn" that allows the nation to conduct ever more capable and affordable space missions - and the innovative and cost-effective commercial crew program, which will break our sole dependence on foreign partners to get to the Space Station. The bill will jeopardize the success of the commercial crew program and ensure that we continue to outsource jobs to Russia.

In the coming months, NASA will continue to work with the Congress to move towards legislation that funds a balanced portfolio for NASA to spur economic growth here on Earth and maintain American preeminence in space exploration."

Marc's note: The next salvo has been launched in the budget battle.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves $18 Billion for NASA in FY2014, Space Policy Online

"The Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA approved $18 billion for the agency for FY2014 this morning, a significant increase over the level recommended by its House counterpart last week and more than the Obama Administration requested.

The Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee, chaired by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who also chairs the full committee, approved the bill with little discussion in a short markup session. Full committee markup is scheduled for Thursday at 10:00 am ET."

Marc's note: Before you get too excited remember that the House will want to lower the budget. So this is yet just another House-Senate ongoing battle leading nowhere at the moment.

UPDATE: Here's the House Bill with more details.

"The Committee recommends $16,598,300,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is $928,430,000 below fiscal year 2013 and $1,117,095,000 below the request."

House Committee Approves Smallest NASA Budget Since 1986, Planetary Society Blog

"The House Appropriations committee, apparently feeling nostalgic for the Karate Kid and warm leggings, just approved the smallest NASA budget (in terms of purchasing power) since 1986.

The subcommittee responsible for NASA's budget approved $16.6 billion for the space agency in 2014. While SpaceNews reported this as the smallest budget since 2007, it's actually much worse if you correct for inflation."

Marc's note: The caveat here is if the NASA Authorization Act of 2013, that the House Subcommittee on Space marked-up earlier this week, doesn't change substantially. What the final Bill will look like is yet to be determined. But even when the Senate weighs in, it appears with the current Congress, and for at least the next few years, you can expect a lower NASA budget. I don't see the White House expending political energy, to truly fight for NASA.

This morning's hearing of the Subcommittee on Space Markup of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 was a partisan affair with an outcome that surprised no one.

Chairman Palazzo and other Republicans, including a very vocal Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), railed upon the Democrats for the current fiscal mess and said until such a time as the budget is dealt with NASA's budget would be curtailed.

Representative Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) presented her amendment to the Authorization bill that would have increased NASA's funding and while other Democrats used their time to support the amendment, the Republican majority on the committee voted it down 12-9 with all votes being on party line.

One note of interest from the hearing is that Representative Rohrabacher stated he voted for the Bill with the understanding changes would be made that address his concerns before the final Bill goes to the full committee for markup. Chairman Palazzo agreed. We'll have to wait and see what changes are made for the final markup but it doesn't appear that any of Rep. Edwards changes from the amendment will make it into the final Bill.

- Listen to the hearing (MP3).
- The Subcommittee on Space will meet to markup the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 (PDF)
- Statement of Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) Space Subcommittee Markup of
Committee Print, NASA Authorization Act of 2013

- Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) on Edwards Amendment - With Charts (PDF)
- Opening Statement Rep. Donna Edwards Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
- Subcommittee Approves NASA Reauthorization Bill - Maintains Priority Programs and Provides Consistent Direction to NASA
- Republicans Approve Bill That Harms NASA

The other hearing this morning was the Subcommittee Markup - FY 2014 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill

- FY 2014 Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill - Subcommittee Draft (PDF)

House Democrats Preparing Their Own NASA Authorization Bill, Space News

"Democrats in the House are set to unveil their own NASA authorization bill, which unlike a much leaner Republican proposal due to be marked up June 10 would authorize $18 billion in spending for 2014 -- more than NASA has gotten since 2011.

... The Republican bill would ban an asteroid retrieval mission the Obama administration proposed in April and instead direct NASA to send more astronauts and hardware to lunar space. The Republican bill, which assumes NASA will be subject to across-the-board sequestration cuts for the foreseeable future, also called for shrinking NASA's Earth science program and restructuring NASA management.

The official summary of the Democratic bill mentions none of these things, and directs NASA to only one destination: Mars. The agency would be on the hook to draw up a 15-year Mars road map for Congress, under the Democrats' bill, but it would be entirely up to NASA to decide whether the road to the red planet included detours to the Moon, asteroids or Mars' natural satellites. "

UPDATE: Ranking Member Edwards Introduces Legislation to Authorize NASA, Cites Need to Return Agency to Path of Greatness, Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD)

UPDATE July 10: The amendment Rep. Edwards proposed was defeated 11-9 at today's hearing.

Marc's note: There will be two subcommittee meetings on Wednesday related to NASA's budget.

- Subcommittee on Space Markup of Committee Print, NASA Authorization Act of 2013 (10:00 am)

- Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee FY2014 Appropriations Bill Markup (11:00 am)

FAA Commercial Space Office Fares Much Better in Senate, House Cut Would be "Crippling", Space Policy Online

"The House and Senate Appropriations Committees completed action on the FY2014 funding bill that includes the FAA this week. The two took opposite approaches to funding the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace calls a substantial cut approved by the House committee "crippling." Conversely, the Senate committee recommended more than the request.

On Thursday, the full House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY2014 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) bill, making no change to the almost 12 percent cut to AST recommended by its T-HUD subcommittee: $14.16 million instead of the $16.01 million requested. That is roughly 8 percent less than its current funding level."

Related:

- Senator Nelson Weighs in NASA Authorization Bill
- Space Development: Going Everywhere and Nowhere
- Hearing Today: NASA Authorization Act of 2013
- FAA Commercial Space Launch Office Deep Budget Cut Possible
- Draft Only: Highlights of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013

Marc's note: After the 4th of July break the budget battle will be back on and it's shaping up to be quite a battle as the House and Senate clash.

UPDATE: Just before the holiday Space News reported that an "undated 35-page legislative proposal -- which also contains many noncommercialization suggestions for Congress to consider -- was crafted by NASA in response to the draft NASA authorization bill unveiled June 19 by the Republican leadership of House Science, Space and Technology space subcommittee.

... An industry source agreed that a NASA authorization bill is far from a certainty this year, and added that a regular appropriation bill is even more unlikely.

Congressional staffers "are telling us to expect an omnibus appropriations [bill] for 2014," the source said June 28."

Marc's note: It's looking more like a stalemate with Congress having forgotten what the word bipartisan means.

"Charles Bolden talked about his experiences as an astronaut and his current duties as NASA administrator. He discussed some of the more than 100 missions he flew over North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia during his career as a Marine pilot flying the A-6 Intruder. He recounted the improbability of an African American being accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in a time of racial segregation in his home state of South Carolina. He spoke about his final mission into space and the unlikely friendships that he developed with the two Russian astronauts who flew with him. Other topics included the NASA budget, the space shuttle program, and the international space station."

Nelson warns of partisan "chaos" regarding NASA authorization, Space Politics

"Immediately after the House Science Committee's space subcommittee wrapped up its hearing on a draft NASA authorization bill Wednesday morning, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) offered his views on the subject at a Space Transportation Association luncheon on the other side of Capitol Hill. Nelson, chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, said his committee was working on its own version of a NASA authorization bill that would be ready by mid-July or perhaps sooner, in order to support appropriators."

What we're going to try to mark up is a balanced program," he said, citing progress in both commercial crew development and the Space Launch System and Orion programs, as well as science programs, including the James Webb Space Telescope."

Moon, Mars, or Asteroids, Which is the Best Destination for Solar System Development?, Dennis Wingo

"The Moon!, no Mars!, no Asteroids! Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century and in the NASA, space advocacy, and commercial space worlds one of these three destinations are being touted (largely to the exclusion of others) for their value to science, human exploration, and economic development, but which one of them is the most valuable, the most deserving, of our attention?

This argument is taking place today in the vacuum of space policy that we currently live in without any unifying principles or policy to inform our decisions. Without a guiding policy and sense of purpose that encompasses more than narrow interests and singular destinations it is exceedingly likely that the human exploration and development of the solar system will continue to be an expensive and futile exercise. We must develop a firm moral, technological, and fiscal foundation for this outward move that will attract capital investment, spur technology development, and encourage innovation in a manner that people can understand, believe in, and thus financially support."

Subcommittee on Space Hearing - NASA Authorization Act of 2013

Hearing: NASA Authorization Act of 2013
Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, US
Time: 10:00 a.m. ET

Witnesses and Statements

- Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University

"Three themes run through my testimony today:

- NASA needs a clear and compelling long-term goal. That goal should be to send human explorers to Mars.
- NASA is being asked to do too much with too little. Unless program content can be matched to budget, the result will be wasted effort and delay.
- Our nation's civil space program will be best served by having high-level policy set by the Administration and Congress, and implementation details recommended by NASA engineers, scientists, and managers."

- Mr. A. Thomas Young, Former Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Corporation

"The dominant strategic issue facing the civil space program is human spaceflight. Today, there is a human spaceflight program but no credible human space exploration strategy. There is much discussion about going to the moon, an asteroid, Phobos, Deimos and Mars; however, there is no credible plan or budget. There are human exploration elements such as SLS and Orion."

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)

- Prepared Statement by Rep. Palazzo: The NASA Authorization Act of 2013

"The draft bill includes a topline budget of over $16.8 billion dollars and authorizes the agency for two years."

"The Space Launch System is authorized at over $1.77 billion and the Orion crew capsule at $1.2 billion. The SLS and Orion will take our astronauts deeper into space than ever before. I am committed to the success of these assets and ensuring their continued on-time development and appropriate prioritization moving forward. The Commercial Crew program is authorized at $700 million, but let me be clear; this is not a blank check for the Administration. The bill includes several accountability measures and a flight readiness deadline of December 31, 2017. This deadline is not negotiable. NASA must do whatever is necessary in its acquisition model to meet this deadline, even if that means radically altering their current plans."

House Appropriators Want Deep Cut to FAA Commercial Space Launch Office, Space Policy Online

"The House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) will meet tomorrow to markup the draft FY2014 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill. As drafted, the bill would reduce AST from its requested level of $16.01 million to $14.16 million."

"Mike Gold, Director of D.C. Operations & Business Growth for Bigelow Aerospace, said "These cuts are ill-advised to say the least. At a time when we're depending so heavily on commercial space transportation to do this to the FAA-AST will have serious consequences, causing delays throughout the industry and even potentially putting lives in danger. It's certainly my hope that all of the AST's funding can be restored."

Mars base added to moon plan Politico

"Republicans in Congress are pushing for major cuts across the federal budget, but so far, they're not willing to sacrifice a plan to build a moon colony."

In fact, Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are eyeing an even more ambitious goal: building a base on Mars, too.

"... The [NASA] Administrator shall establish a program to develop a sustained human presence on the Moon and the surface of Mars," states a recent discussion draft obtained by POLITICO."

Marc's note: Wow, what can I say, go for it! Oh hold on, there's no budget for this "go-as-we-can-afford-to-pay" plan. The rhetoric out of Congress is at an all time high and who can take anything they say seriously anymore. I suppose the only way to make them accountable, is to vote them out.

Draft House NASA Authorization Bill Would Create 6-Year Term for NASA Administrator, No Funds for ARM, Space Policy Online

"The draft NASA Authorization Act of 2013 penned by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee would make the NASA Administrator a 6-year term appointment and authorize no funds for the proposed Asteroid Return Mission (ARM). A hearing on the draft bill is scheduled for Wednesday.

- Authorizes $16,825,200,000, which is "consistent with the Budget Control Act and FY2013 appropriations." If Congress replaces or repeals the Budget Control Act (which created the sequester) then funding would be added for the International Space Station (ISS), Space Launch System (SLS), and Commercial Crew.

Human Spaceflight - Makes clear that missions to lunar orbit, the surface of the Moon, and Mars are NASA's human spaceflight goals.

- No funding for the Asteroid Rendezvous Mission [alternately called the Asteroid Return Mission or Asteroid Retrieval Mission]
- NASA to study feasibility of extending ISS beyond 2020
- OSTP to lead a strategic plan for ISS utilization by "all science agencies"
- Continued commitment to SLS/Orion; reiterates that Orion is a backup to commercial crew for ISS
"

Marc's note: This is a draft only. NASA is moving forward with the Asteroid Initiative at the direction of the White House. The final bill will assuredly look different.

Subcommittee on Space Hearing - NASA Authorization Act of 2013, House Science Committee

The House Science Committee's space subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for 10:00 a.m. ET next Wednesday, June 19 on the "NASA Authorization Act of 2013." The House version of the bill has not been released yet but should be soon and possibly before the hearing.

The scheduled witnesses are:
- Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University
- Mr. A. Thomas Young, Former Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Corporation

UPDATE: Draft NASA Authorization Bill Nixes Asteroid Retrieval Mission, Space News

"The House Science, Space and Technology Committee has begun drafting a NASA authorization bill that would hold the agency to a top line of about $16.87 billion, bar funding for a planned asteroid rendezvous mission, and divert money for Earth observation into robotic missions to other parts of the solar system, according to an official summary of the bill obtained by SpaceNews.

The bill also would authorize NASA to spend $700 million annually on the Commercial Crew Program -- up from the $500 million Congress authorized in 2010 -- and require the agency to report every 90 days on the effort."

FUTHER UPDATE: NASA Invites Media to Asteroid Initiative Industry and Partner Day (June 18) , NASA

AIP FYI #102: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News - Update on OMB Travel Restrictions, American Institute of Physics

"The OMB recently issued a 3 1/2 page "Controller Alert: Travel and Conferences" document recognizing the important role that meetings play in the conduct of scientific research. The unsigned and undated memorandum advises that the previously announced spending reductions will continue and details implementation procedures for acceptable travel expenses. This alert, which appears on the website of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), states:"

NASA operating plan adjusts commercial crew, planetary science funding, Space Politics

"Space News reported Friday that a long-awaited fiscal year 2013 operating plan for NASA will make some funding adjustments for several key programs, including commercial crew development and planetary science. The plan, not publicly released yet by NASA, would fund commercial crew at $525 million, effectively undoing the effects of sequestration and rescission on the program. Planetary science, which received additional funding even after sequestration and rescission compared to the administration's request, would lose that funding: it would go back to $1.2 billion, the amount originally requested by the administration for FY13. The funds cut from planetary would be redistributed to the James Webb Space Telescope and to earth sciences."

Marc's note: Good news for Commercial Crew, not so much for Planetary Science.

Update: Confirmed: NASA Defies the Will of Congress by Raiding Planetary Science Funding, Planetary Society

"Despite our best efforts and the best efforts of Congress, the implacable thirst to undercut the most visible and successful program within NASA continues unabated."

Marc's note: While I can sympathize with those who support a strong Planetary Science budget I also see the need for Commercial Crew to get the funding it needs. In world of finite resources you can't everything. The only way to please everyone would be a budget increase. But that's not going to happen in the current political climate.

Download This One-Page Summary on the Threat to Planetary Science, Planetary Society

"When we visit legislators or staff members in Congress we always provide them with a "leave-behind" to reinforce our position. This tends to be a one page summary of our reason for visiting, which right now is about stopping the proposed cuts to NASA's Planetary Science Division in next year's budget."

And here's the Planetary Society's solution to the issue: "Implement the science priorities of the NRC decadal survey. Provide $1.5 billion annually (same as FY12) to NASA's Planetary Science Division, a re-balance of less than 2% of NASA's total budget."

ASP Statement Regarding the Obama Administration's GFY14 Budget Proposal Relating to NASA SMD EPO Funding, The Astronomical Society of the Pacific

"The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), speaking from the perspective of 124 years of advancing science and science education, expresses its profound concern over the Obama Administration's fiscal year 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education restructuring proposal. This proposal will drastically reduce NASA's education and public outreach (EPO) effort, including the abrupt termination of all mission-based EPO efforts in NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). We believe that this action, in NASA and similarly in other science agencies, will significantly damage STEM education efforts--just the opposite of what the Administration intends."

Job Security at NASA

Is NASA about jobs, or actually accomplishing something?, Houston Chronicle

"The diversity of these centers, including sites in populous states like Texas, California, Florida and Ohio, ensures political clout for the agency in both houses of Congress. At the same time, NASA has to continually spread work around all of these centers and keep senators and representatives from the homes of each of the 10 happy. Which is to say, first and foremost, saving jobs."

Federal budget cuts threaten NASA's space travel plans, KTRK

"... All that costs money, and Bolden says NASA's $16.8 billion budget request gets chopped to just $16.1 billion if the seqester is not rectified. "At the $16.1 billion level, there is no way in the world they can continue to operate a center like JSC at the level of employment that we have right now," Bolden said. Bolden laments this would mean cutbacks at all NASA centers, primarily contractors. But furloughs for civil servants, he confides, could also become necessary."

NASA Operating Plan for FY 2013 to Target Planetary Overall, Cuts Research and Completed Missions, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"In his FY13 budget request, President Obama proposed the NASA Planetary budget be cut by more than 20% from its FY12 level (From $1.5B to less than $1.2B). Under the initial Continuing Resolutions covering the first half of the fiscal year, the Administration chose to operate NASA Planetary at this reduced level. Congress restored more than $222M of the President's cut in its FY13 appropriation passed on March 21 and signed into law by the President. Congress's action is now being reversed by NASA and others in the Administration through the preferential application of rescission and sequestration cuts of more than 15% to the NASA Planetary Science budget."

Lawmakers urge NASA to be mindful of budget constraints, The Hill

"Lawmakers on Thursday urged NASA to be more realistic about developing space technology in light of budget constraints. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) chided NASA for not making the cost of projects clear to Congress and warned the agency that it risked having them axed entirely. Noting the recent exoplanet discoveries by NASA's $591 million Kepler telescope, Rohrabacher noted that Congress nearly shut down a similar telescope due to a lack of funding. "The [National Science Foundation's] Arecibo telescope was actually the first observatory to find evidence of this exoplanet, and we almost closed that down due to lack of funds. And that telescope remains a very important part of the projects that we are talking about," Rohrabacher said."

Continued Sequestration Will Short-Circuit SLS, Aviation Week

"Mikulski and Shelby consider that budget request inadequate, particularly in the funding for the heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) that is intended to take humans beyond low Earth orbit. NASA wants $820 million to keep at least two competitors in the running for a commercial route to the International Space Station, but many lawmakers would like to see $300 million of that transferred into the $1.385 billion SLS request for fiscal 2014."

Exploring a possible mission to Mars, Washington post

"The Obama administration's 2010 "National Space Policy of the United States of America" requires the NASA administrator to set "far-reaching exploration milestones," including: "By 2025, begin crewed missions beyond the moon, including sending humans to an asteroid. By the mid-2030s, send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth." So, taken literally, the policy does not call for NASA to put astronauts on the surface of the fourth rock from the sun. They'd go to Mars, take a close look from orbit, perhaps rendezvous with one of the small Martian moons, and come zooming home."

Charlie Bolden Intends To Press President Obama on Mars Mission Mandate for NASA, earlier post

"At one point, Bolden teared up and said that "Mars is the Goal". Bolden claimed that he was intent upon going to the White House, "pounding his shoe on the table", and demanding a commitment from President Obama to direct NASA to send humans to Mars. Bolden said that he needs that commitment to allow him to decide what to do (not do) with regard to extending the ISS."

Is Charlie Bolden's Shoe Pounding Moment Approaching? (Update)

"There is no mention of an Administration committment to a human mission to Mars in the NASA FY 2014 Budget. Either Charlie Bolden never pounded his shoe at the White House - or (more likely) they were not listening when he did."

Mars Revealed: Evolving Technology, Advancing Science

"The application period for the Mars Revealed teacher training is currently on hold pending NASA Headquarter reviews of NASA education programs. Please check back frequently. Updates will be posted as they become available."

- Another Meeting Cancelled Due to Sequestration, earlier post
- More Meetings Cancelled Due to Sequestration, earlier post
- Details on The Gutting of NASA Education, earlier post

Keith's note: NASA has cancelled the Second Kepler Science Conference, which was to be held at NASA Ames on November 4-8, 2013. This cancellation is now posted on the Kepler Mission web site I am told that the organizers hope to postpone this meeting and hold it again at NASA Ames, perhaps one year later, i.e., November 2014, assuming that the sequestration restrictions on NASA will have been lifted by then.

American Astronomical Society Statement on President Obama's Proposed FY 2014 Budget

"The AAS is deeply concerned about the Administration's renewed proposal to cut NASA's Planetary Science Division, this time by $200 million compared to the 2013 level enacted by Congress and signed by the President last month. At this level, the budget precludes a major mission to any planet other than Mars after 2017, and precludes exploration of Europa, a high priority for the planetary science community. The request also threatens the cadence of Discovery and New Frontiers missions, which are a cornerstone of the Planetary Sciences Decadal Survey to ensure balance among mission classes. The U.S. planetary exploration program has a storied history and a compelling plan for the future. The AAS urges the Administration and the Congress to find a path forward that maintains U.S. leadership in planetary science, rather than ceding future exploration of our solar system to other nations."


Message From The NASA Administrator: New Policies in Response to Sequestration

"In addition, as I have previously stated, at this time, we do not plan to resort to furloughs for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration, and there is currently no change to the Agency's existing hiring policy. Centers may continue to transact hires in all categories as planned in their submitted phased hiring plans up to their FY 2013 FTE ceilings. However, the Congress is currently considering NASA's full-year appropriations levels; and, as the legislative process concludes, we will assess the impact of the new funding levels and whether revisions to our current posture are warranted."

Keith's 22 April note: Furloughs loom across the Federal government. While other agencies openly talk about their furlough plans, NASA is not saying anything. Why is that? It has been a month since Charlie Bolden issued this memo and its mention of how NASA viewed furloughs. Nothing has been issued since then.

Keith's 25 April update: Bolden in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee today: "If we do not come out of sequester for the 2014 budget then we will start to furlough people."

Keith's note: When he was asked by Lamar Smith at House Science Committee hearing on NASA's FY 2014 budget why two James Webb Space Telescope instruments were late, Charlie Bolden then tried to push that off as bad news reports. Bolden went on to say that he has been adamant that he takes full responsibility for the progress of Webb. Smith then read from the recent GAO report "NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects" citing this passage:

"... In addition, only two instruments have been delivered for integration with ISIM and the other two instruments will be delivered at least 11 months late."

When Smith asked Bolden again about the two late Webb instrments, Bolden's reponse was: "That's news to me"

GAO Report on Large-Scale NASA Projects, earlier post

House Space Subcommittee Reviews NASA's FY 2014 Budget Request

"Rep. Edwards: We need to take a careful look at how the resources requested match the program content included in the FY 2014 budget request. At the Full Committee hearing last week on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for Science Agencies, the President's Science Adviser, Dr. Holdren, testified that 'NASA has long had the problem of 20 lbs. of missions in a 10 Ib. budget, and they continue to.' I share that concern."

House Space Subcommittee Reviews NASA's FY 2014 Budget Request

Chairman Palazzo: "I am committed to ensuring that our nation has a robust space program that will continue to lead the world for generations. I am concerned however that NASA has neglected Congressional funding priorities and been distracted by new and questionable missions that detract from our ultimate deep space exploration goals. These distractions also take up precious lines in the budget at a time when NASA can least afford it."

Prepared Statements:

Rep. Lamar Smith

"The committee has seen little evidence that a current stated goal for NASA's human spaceflight program--namely, to visit an asteroid by 2025--has been widely accepted as a compelling destination by NASA's own workforce, by the nation as a whole, or by the international community. On the international front there appears to be continued enthusiasm for a mission to the Moon but not for an asteroid mission."

Rep. Steven Palazzo
Rep. Donna Edwards
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Charles Bolden

House Subcommittee on Space Hearing: Overview of the NASA Budget forFY 2014

- 2:00 PM Webcast
- Hearing charter

NASA Advisory Council Meeting (Webex/Dial-in)

1:00 pm EDT: NASA FY 2014 budget (Robinson)
2:00 pm EDT: NASA Plans for Future Human Spaceflight (Gerstenmeier)
3:00 pm EDT: Human Exploration and Operations Committee Report (Kohrs)
4:00 pm EDT: Science Committee Report (Huntress)

Proposed STEM Education Reorganization Contained in the President's FY14 Budget Request, Association of American Universities

"In follow-up to the discussion today at the Energy Sciences Coalition meeting, below is information provided by OSTP on the nature of the reorganization including a listing of the specific STEM education programs that will be eliminated/consolidated across federal agencies, as well as the new STEM education programs that the budget proposes."

JPL Open House Suspended

"Due to budget restrictions, plans for a JPL Open House in spring 2013 have been suspended. If budget considerations improve, JPL hopes to host an Open House at a future date, perhaps as early as fall 2013. Please check back here for updates."

2013 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop Imaging Planets and Disks Cancelled

"It is with regret that the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) announces the cancellation of this year's Sagan Summer Workshop (July 29-Aug 2, 2013) on the topic of "Imaging Planets and Disks". Like numerous other scientific conferences this year, the Sagan Workshop is a victim of the Federal budget sequestration."

Rep. Schiff and Senator Feinstein Call on NASA to Not Gut Planetary Science

"Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden calling on him to keep any operating plan for the fiscal year consistent with the funding levels and allocations directed to it by Congress earlier this year. There have been reports that the FY 2013 NASA Operating Plan will slash funding from the Planetary Science programs. Schiff and Feinstein were joined by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative John Culberson (R-TX) in sending the letter today."

Proposed STEM Education Reorganization Contained in the President's FY14 Budget Request, Association of American Universities

"In follow-up to the discussion today at the Energy Sciences Coalition meeting, below is information provided by OSTP on the nature of the reorganization including a listing of the specific STEM education programs that will be eliminated/consolidated across federal agencies, as well as the new STEM education programs that the budget proposes."

2013 STScI Spring Symposium and Habitable Worlds across Time and Space Cancelled, Space Telescope Science Institute

"We regret to announce that the 2013 STScI Spring Symposium, Habitable Worlds across Time and Space, has been cancelled. Space Telescope Science Institute operates as a NASA contractor. Our contractual obligations include support of workshops and seminars. In response to fiscal impacts resulting from the United States Government sequestration, NASA has temporarily suspended the contract authority and all funding that enables us to host conferences and seminars."

Editorial: Who Is Minding Planetary Research?, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"The Administration and both houses of Congress openly support the planetary research programs, as demonstrated by proposed and appropriated budgets. It is PSD management that undermines their intent. Stop treating planetary research as a slush fund."

Tell Congress To Support Planetary Exploration at NASA, Planetary Society

"The White House has doubled down on its efforts to cut Planetary Science at NASA. It's proposing a cut of over $200 million, despite the fact that Congress rejected a similar cut for last year. This will prevent any mission to Europa. It delays for years efforts to send small spacecraft throughout the solar system, and will have long-lasting repercussions on the scientific and engineering community. We know Congress supports planetary exploration, but they need to hear from you."

Asteroids and Budgets

NASA Budget Priority: Asteroid Defense, Wall Street Journal

"Once again, NASA likely faces a stiff fight over its desire to ramp up funding to $820 million annually to help subsidize work on private taxis to transport astronauts to the orbiting space station. Congress has kept a lid on such appropriations at around $500 million. While seeking to increase investment in cutting-edge spacecraft propulsion and on-orbit refueling, NASA would lose nearly one-third of its current funding to foster interest and education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The proposed cuts are part of a governmentwide bid by the White House to consolidate so-called STEM education in three other agencies."

NASA mulls asteroid capture mission, eventual manned visits, CBS

"I hope it goes forward," said Rusty Schweickart, a former Apollo astronaut who helped found the B612 Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and launching a privately funded space telescope to search for threatening asteroids. "Asteroids are a very, very interesting area," he told CBS News in a telephone interview. "They're a hell of a resource, and I think the potential for long-term resource development for use in space is going to be a very big thing. And this is sort of step one. It's a baby step in a way, but it should be very interesting."

NASA Associate Administrator Statements on the Asteroid Initiative in the FY 2014 Budget Request

"The following are statements from the associate administrators of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Science Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate on the administration's budget request for the 2014 fiscal year."

Keith's note: Apparently the observations of Jaiwon Shin, the Associate Administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (about the budget), weren't deemed to be important enough to include. Oddly, NASA CFO Robinson and NASA Adminstrator Bolden made frequent mention of the Boeing 787 today during a budget media telecon.

2014 Federal Research & Development Budget Briefing (webcast)

"Officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other Federal departments and agencies with core science missions will discuss President Obama's FY 2014 R&D Budget."

NASA Administrator Discusses 2014 Fiscal Year Budget Proposal (webcast)

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal at 3 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 10, during a media teleconference. NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will join the administrator."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Statement on the NASA FY 2014 Budget Request

"Today, we unveil President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for NASA -- a $17.7 billion investment in our nation's future. Our budget ensures the United States will remain the world's leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people."

Keith's note: The White House loves to talk about education. So ... what do they do at NASA? They cut NASA education from $136.9 million in FY 2013 to $94.2 million in FY 2014. This is how they explain it: "In support of the Administration's FY 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education plan, the Agency's education efforts will be fundamentally restructured into a consolidated education program funded through the Office of Education." This is not at all surprising given that OMB actually wants to move all of NASA's education activities to the Department of Education (they did not get their way on that this year). No explanation is offered as to what "restructured" means other than providing less money.

NASA FY 2014 Budget information

Senator: NASA to Lasso Asteorid, Bring it Closer, AP

"George Washington University Space Policy Institute Director Scott Pace, a top NASA official during the George W. Bush administration, was critical of the plan, saying it was a bad idea scientifically and for international cooperation. Instead, NASA and other countries should first join forces for a comprehensive survey of all possible dangerous space rocks, Pace said."

Russia may join asteroid retrieval mission, UPI

"Russia says its Roscosmos space agency may join NASA in an ambitious mission to capture an asteroid and bring it to a lunar orbit for exploration. ... [It is] a very interesting project, which NASA proposes to carry out jointly with Roscosmos specialists," Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin said."

Keith's note: It certainly seems like Russia is interested in this in contrast to what Scott Pace would have you think. Other countries will soon line up as well. Scott Pace should know that there is no technical or political reason not to do this mission and and asteroid survey in parallel i.e. simultaneously. It comes down to money (there seems to be some) and sources report that this mission will also see an enhancement in a variety of activities associated with NEO detection.

When it comes to Obama space policy and Scott Pace there always seems to be a lingering "what if" bitterness - of the sort often associated with talking about having lost some big game way back in high school. You have to know that if President Romney told Scott Pace to do this mission he'd have been absolutely thrilled at being given the opportunity.

- The Romney Campaign has a Space Policy Etch-A-Sketch, earlier post
- Double Standards and Sour Grapes From the Romney/Griffin Camp

Obama to take pay cut to draw attention to plight of federal workers facing furloughs, Washington Post

"President Obama plans to give up 5 percent of his salary this year to draw attention to the financial sacrifice of more than 1 million federal employees who will be furloughed by automatic spending cuts starting in less than three weeks. ... Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he will return a portion of his salary to share the pain with 750,000 Defense civilians who will lose 14 days of pay this fiscal year. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe decided -- before the president's action became public -- to donate 32 hours of pay to a fund that provides emergency loans, child-care subsidies and other financial help to federal workers. And the Department of Housing and Urban Development disclosed that Secretary Shaun Donovan and eight politically appointed deputies will donate seven days worth of salaries. Their checks will either go back to the Treasury or to a nonprofit housing group that helps low-income Americans."

Keith's note: Is Charlie Bolden going to take a pay cut?

American Astronomical Society Decries Impact of Federal Travel Restrictions on Science

"The American Astronomical Society (AAS) today expressed deep concern about the U.S. government's new restrictions on travel and conference attendance for federally funded scientists. Enacted in response to the budget sequestration that went into effect on March 1st, the policies severely limit the ability of many researchers to meet with collaborators and to present their latest results at professional meetings. The leadership of the AAS is especially worried about the restrictions' deleterious effects on scientific productivity and on scientists' and students' careers."

Keith's tnote: If you ask NASA how much they spend on travel in a given year they can't tell you. If you ask them how much these new travel restrictions to save they can't tell you that either. They are just making this up as they go.

The Eighth International Conference on Mars Postponed Until 2014

"The impacts of sequestration on the Federal budget have led to new travel policies that severely constrain the participation of NASA center employees, including JPL, and other government employees (e.g., the U.S. Geological Survey) in scientific conferences, including the planned 8th International Mars Conference set for July 15-19 on the Caltech campus. The current fiscal environment is sufficiently restrictive that we, the organizers of the conference, have decided to delay the meeting for one year, holding it instead in June/July of 2014."

Keith's note: Last week NASA Education AA Leland Melvin sent a memo out to the Education Coordinating Committee regarding funding issues. In that memo he more or less exempted all of the activities that his directorate funds from cuts associated with sequester-related budget activities. I have asked NASA PAO for a copy of that letter and will post it if/when NASA provides me with a copy.

Keith's 11:00 am update: NASA PAO has decline to provde a copy of this letter and has said that I need to file a FOIA request in order to get it. I have filed the FOIA request. This usually takes weeks although they could expedite this. With all of these memos circulating around - with contradictory and confusing statements in them - you would think that NASA Headquarters would want to clarify things for people and just issue the memo along with an overall statement of policy regarding the topics raised in these other memos.

Keith's 11:45 am update: Here's the memo - from sources other than NASA. Letter from NASA AA for Education Leland Melvin to the Education Coordinating Council on Waivers for Education and Public Outreach Activities

Repeal the sequester's cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs

"Repeal the sequester's cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs The Sequester's recent cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs must not be allowed. These cuts would end the many programs NASA has for educating the children of our society, as well as many other forms of public outreach held by NASA. In an internal memo issued on the evening of Friday, March 22, the Administration notes that "effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects."

NASA Suspends All Education and Public Outreach (Update), Earlier post

NASA Internal Memo: Guidance for Education and Public Outreach Activities Under Sequestration

"Effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects.

The scope comprises activities intended to communicate, connect with, and engage a wide and diverse set of audiences to raise awareness and involvement in NASA, its goals, missions and programs, and to develop an appreciation for, exposure to, and involvement in STEM. Audiences include employees, partners, educators, students, and members of the general public. The scope encompasses, but is not limited to:

- Programs, events, and workshops.
- Permanent and traveling exhibits, signage, and other materials.
- Speeches, presentations, and appearances, with the exception of technical presentations by researchers at scientific and technical symposia.
- Video and multimedia products in development (and renewal of existing products).
- Web and social media sites in development (excludes operational sites).
- External and internal publications, with the exception of Scientific and Technical Information as defined by NPD 2200.1B.
- Any other activity whose goal is to reach out to external and internal stakeholders and the public concerning NASA, its programs, and activities."


Keith's note: This is just insane. How much money will this actually save? NASA's response to the sequestration is to go out of its way to not communicate with the outside world? Is any other agency doing this?

Then again this might have a silver lining by forcing everything to a serious life and death review - there are some pointless money holes - all done as EPO - that NASA loves to just pour cash into. I have talked to knowledgeable folks at NASA HQ - and they say that this is not an indication that NASA does not think that EPO is important. Rather, that its time for everyone to justify the actual need for projects on a case-by-case basis.

While NASA is looking at all EPO activities they need to look at other things as well. For example, JPL runs two MSL websites that overlap/duplicate one another [1, 2] but don't cross link - and JPL has an extra copy [3] of one of these sites for good measure. Yet none of these JPL sites interact with the site at NASA HQ [4] - and yet they all cater to the same audience. What does it cost NASA to support 3(4) official websites for one mission?

Keith's update: This memo was issued inside NASA this afternoon - after the memo above.

Memo: NASA AA for Communications David Weaver to Communications Coordinating Council: EPO Activities Under Sequestration

"I am providing additional information and instructions regarding the review of public outreach activities under sequestration as outlined in the memorandum from the NASA Chief Financial Officer and Chief of Staff dated March 22, 2013."

Sequestration forces NASA to hold up educational and outreach efforts, CosmicLog/NBC

"It's important to point out that it's a suspension, not a cancellation," [NASA spokesman Bob] Jacobs wrote. "The agency's budget for the fiscal year is more that $1 billion below the original request. We are taking prudent steps to ensure the resources expended on outreach activities are done so wisely."

Letter from NASA AA for Education Leland Melvin to the Education Coordinating Council on Waivers for Education and Public Outreach Activities

Bolden Keynote At AAS Wednesday Morning Will Be Livestreamed, Space Policy Online

"NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden will keynote the American Astronautical Society's Goddard Memorial Symposium tomorrow morning, Wednesday, March 20, and AAS will stream the event live."

NASA Limits Travel; No Layoff Plans - yet (update), earlier post

"v. Examples - For example, the following conferences do NOT meet the new criteria and NASA funded participation will not be allowed:

1. National Space Symposium
2. The American Astronautical Society's Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium and Goddard Memorial Dinner"

Keith's note: This is just baffling. Charlie Bolden tells all of NASA that specific meetings are not going to be supported by NASA funds - and then he turns around and goes to one of the meetings specifically cited in his official agency policy that do "NOT meet the new criteria and NASA funded participation will not be allowed" to speak in an official capacity. I wonder if Bolden is using NASA-provided transportation (that limo) to go to this unsupported meeting - and if he will have NASA staff with him - also traveling from NASA HQ to Maryland for this event - at NASA expense.

Bolden Cuts Travel; Buys Toy Telescope Models, earlier post

Keith's update: According to this tweet: @Jeff_Foust: Bolden, on travel bans for this event and Nat'l Space Symposium, notes he came here since it's local, "doesn't cost the gov't a dime." Charlie Bolden thinks he's not breaking any rules. Unless Mr. Bolden drove himself to and from this event - with no staff - in his own car - and took time without pay - then it most certainly did cost the government something. The fact that Bolden is oblivious to this fact speaks volumes. His travel prohibitions will save a vanishingly small amount of money and amount, at most, to a stunt.

Keith's update: According to NASA PAO Bolden was accompanied by one NASA civil servant who drove to/from the event in their own car. NASA will not discuss Bolden's travel arrangements due to security concerns. As such it is safe to assume that he was using government transportation and security - and that costs money. Bolden's presence supported the meeting using NASA funds in violation of his own policy. Was this a large expense? No. That's the point - these arcane travel restrictions will have negligible impact on NASA's expenses.

NASA SMD Memo: LPSC Travel Confusion Under The Sequester

"Recent guidance has come from the Administration that needs interpretation relative to supporting travel for all NASA activities. These rules will go into effect on March 19, 2013. We are in the process of executing all elements of the guidance and will notify those that are affected. For instance, we have worked with all the NASA Centers and JPL employees and have completed an approved list of attendees."

Keith's note: Charlie Bolden is curtailing NASA travel to scientific and technical meetings to save a vanishingly small amount of money in the grander scheme of things - yet he still allows this solicitation to be put out: NASA Solicitation: Scale Models of the James Webb Space Telescope. So ... toy telescope models trump participation in science meetings? That's how Charlie Bolden sees it.

NASA Limits Travel; No Layoff Plans - yet (update), earlier post

Message From The NASA Administrator: New Policies in Response to Sequestration

"This guidance is to be applied to NASA employees and to all contract employees, including JPL employees, to extent permissible. Program managers, project managers, and contracting officers should apply this guidance to all NASA direct-funded contractor travel. You should know that Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and I have already begun to adjust our activities in line with these guidelines. We have both canceled travel and participation in the April National Space Symposium in Colorado and I have also canceled a planned overseas trip. ... At this time, there is no change to the Agency's current hiring policy. Centers may continue to transact hires as planned in their submitted phased hiring plans up to their FY2013 FTE ceilings. This includes hiring in all categories, including new intern hires, intern conversions, and all other early career hires."

Sequestration Claims its First Victim at NASA, Planetary Society

"Of special note is that this letter defines "foreign" travel as anything outside of the continental United States. Sorry Hawaii and Alaska!"

NASA clamps down on travel spending, FCW

"Event planners hoping to book NASA speakers: You have a problem."

@elakdawalla: "As others have pointed out to me, sequester doesn't just limit NASA travel; also USGS, DOE, any federally funded organization or lab."

Enact Legislation to Restrict the NASA Budget to No Less than 1.00% of Federal Funding, as of FY2014, We The People Petition

"In 1961, at the height of the space race, the NASA budget was 4.41% of federal outlays. In 2005, despite the federal government spending only ~$15 billion on NASA, $180 billion of economic activity was created by this outlay . The 2013 budget expects ~$19 billion of funding for NASA (Guardian link above), or half of a percent of spending; truly this is a pittance, but one that yields vast economic and scientific rewards. NASA advances our nation when well-funded; by guaranteeing that no less than 1% of federal spending will be on NASA, we promote job creation, encourage creativity in the economy, and gain insight on our universe."

Senate funding measure gives NASA $2.1B for SLS for rest of 2013 (updated), Huntsvile Times

"A bipartisan Senate Appropriations Committee budget for the rest of fiscal year 2013 continues strong funding for NASA's Space Launch System and calls on the agency to speed up its construction. The measure released by committee leadership Monday night gives the overall SLS program $2.1 billion for the rest of the fiscal year, including $260 million for ground-related launch support construction, and also provides $515 million for NASA's commercial crew program."

Explanatory Statement for the Senate Substitute Continuing Resolution (NASA Excerpts)

"This Act includes $17,862,000,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A table of specific funding allocations for NASA is delineated below, and additional detail may be found under the relevant account headings."

Keith's note: According to comments made by PAO AA David Weaver, speaking at the the NASA Advisory Council Committee on Education and Public Outreach meeting on Tuesday, NASA expects that its budget will be released on 18 March - but that date may slip. Weaver, Charlie Bolden, and others were at the White House on Monday. Stay tuned

Sequestration Message from the Office of the Chief Acquisition Officer

"At this time, NASA is taking every step to mitigate the effects of these cuts, but based on our initial analysis, it is possible that your contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or Space Act agreement may be affected. In addition, planned actions for new and existing work may be re-scoped, delayed, or canceled depending on the nature of the work and the degree to which it directly supports the Agency's mission goals. To the extent that your contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or Space Act agreement is affected due to these budget cuts, you will be contacted by your Contracting, Agreement or Grant Officer with additional details."

Update: 2013 IEEE Aerospace Conference Presentations by NASA and JPL Personnel

"We have learned that NASA has severely restricted travel of NASA and JPL employees to the 2013 IEEE Aerospace conference. This is impacting many of the authors at this year's conference. I, on behalf of the conference board and the conference committee, want to extend our condolences to those who are affected by the restrictions, and provide the following guidance with regards to paper presentations."

Reader note: "Of course sunk costs like registration ($1000), lodging, and many flights are long past the opportunity to be refunded, so we're not actually saving much money and causing a lot of trouble for employees, some of whom have personal expenses that will not be reimbursed."

Message From The Administrator: NASA and Sequestration

"NASA's situation is somewhat unique from many other agencies. We have safely and efficiently phased out the Space Shuttle Program and managed existing programs to conservative spending levels. This has postured us so that we do not plan to resort to furloughs at this time for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration. Nevertheless, this still will be a difficult situation for our team and industry partners, and will have problematic consequences for our mission."

How Sequestration Could Hit NASA Projects, Information Week

"Unlike the Department of Defense, which has said that it will furlough federal contractors in a move that could hit many IT workers, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver has said that NASA does not currently have plans to furlough civilians in the event of sequestration."

NASA administrator addresses sequestration, WAFF

"[Bolden] said when you are talking a loss of funds, that means loss of jobs, and that is why he is so concerned. He said the big impact will be a lot of those businesses that NASA partners with. Some of them are on or around Redstone Arsenal."

More NASA Sequester Impacts

Letter From NASA to Senate Appropriators Regarding Impact of Sequestration

"Overall, for purposes of this assessment, the Agency assumed that the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, with all of its terms and conditions, would be extended from March 27 to September 30, 2013, and that the sequester would cancel 5.0 percent of the fullyear amount, which would be the equivalent of roughly a 9 percent reduction over the remaining seven months of the fiscal year. NASA's assessment of the impacts of a March 1 sequester is presented in the enclosure."

TexMessage: Stockman blames Obama and Senate for NASA sequestration, Houston Chronicle

"Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, slammed President Obama and the Senate for sequestration's possible cuts to NASA. "NASA funding fulfills one of the few legitimate functions of government. Friday's destructive explosion over Russia of a meteor we never saw, and the near-hit by an asteroid, should be a warning to Obama against further cuts to NASA," Stockman said in a statement. "Cuts to NASA jeopardize our safety and security."

Federal cuts will affect Northeast Ohio if budget stalemate continues, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A letter that NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., delivered to the U.S. Senate said the sequester would cut $7.3 million from the agency's $551.5 million aeronautics budget, and would result in cancellation of construction projects to repair or replace infrastructure at NASA Glenn."

Hard Budget Realities as Agencies Prepare to Detail Reductions, NY Times

"NASA plans to cancel six technology development projects, including deep-space communications."

'Blunt' NASA boss says sequestration will widen the gap with Russian space program, Huntsville Times

The gap between America and Russia, which can still launch astronauts, will not close, Bolden said. "The gap is going to get bigger," he said. "I'm just being very blunt about. Anybody who thinks this is no big deal - it's a big deal."

No furloughs seen in NASA's Huntsville programs because of sequestration, Huntsville Times

"NASA isn't expecting budget sequestration to lead to contractor furloughs in Huntsville, where work on a new heavy-lift rocket remains one of the agency's top priorities. However, 26 research contracts to small companies and universities have been put on hold to keep funding for the big rocket secure. That was the word this morning from NASA officials attending a Small Business Alliance meeting at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center today. More than 450 contractors, and subcontractors attended to learn more about getting NASA contracts."

White House: State-by-State Sequester Impact Reports, Politisite.com

"Today, the White House is releasing new state-by-state reports on the devastating impact the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families across the country if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise to avert the sequester by March 1st."

Keith's note: I did not see NASA mentioned anywhere - but I might have missed something.

Marshall Space Flight Center may feel minimal hit from sequestration, Rep. Mo Brooks said, Huntsville Times

"During a speech today at the Washington Update Luncheon at the Von Braun Center, Brooks spoke in encouraging terms when asked what impact the budget cuts, known as sequestration, would have on Marshall Space Flight Center. Brooks began his answer by saying he had breakfast today with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who talked recently with Robert Lightfoot - the former director of Marshall who last year was promoted to associate administrator at NASA. "I think Marshall, based on the information I'm getting from Mayor Battle and elsewhere, is going to survive sequestration a little bit better than most of the centers around the country," Brooks said. "Time will tell if that's the way it plays out." It puts NASA in a somewhat unique position, given that the space agency has been a target in recent years of budget cuts and canceled programs."

Letter From NASA to Senate Appropriators Regarding Impact of Sequestration

"Overall, for purposes of this assessment, the Agency assumed that the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, with all of its terms and conditions, would be extended from March 27 to September 30, 2013, and that the sequester would cancel 5.0 percent of the fullyear amount, which would be the equivalent of roughly a 9 percent reduction over the remaining seven months of the fiscal year. NASA's assessment of the impacts of a March 1 sequester is presented in the enclosure."

Space Launch System, Orion wouldn't be affected by sequestration, Huntsville Times

"NASA has decided to spare its Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule from any direct consequences of budget sequestration this year, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. Taking the cuts instead in the "exploration" part of NASA's budget would be commercial space companies trying to build spaceships to get American astronauts to the International Space Station. The Space Launch System (SLS) is NASA's name for a new booster being developed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for deep space missions and the Orion capsule that will ride on top of it."

Charlie Bolden Intends To Press President Obama on Mars Mission Mandate for NASA, earlier post

"At one point, Bolden teared up and said that "Mars is the Goal". Bolden claimed that he was intent upon going to the White House, "pounding his shoe on the table", and demanding a commitment from President Obama to direct NASA to send humans to Mars. Bolden said that he needs that commitment to allow him to decide what to do (not do) with regard to extending the ISS."

Keith's note: It has been more than 3 months since Bolden proclaimed his intent to go to the White House and bang his shoe if he did not get his way. In addition to not approving the L2 station, there is nothing in the FY 2014 budget passback regarding any additional, strong Mars commitment that Charlie Bolden declared must be in the budget (other than what the President has already said, that is). No word yet as to whether Bolden has requested a meeting at the White House for his shoe pounding event - although he was there last week and was told that he could not do some of the other things that he wanted to do. Stay tuned.

- Bolden Seeks To Force Mars Goal Commitment From Obama, earlier post
- Is It Time For Charlie Bolden To Pound His Shoe?, earlier post

A Message from AIAA's Executive Director, AIAA

"We are already starting to see the impact of the government travel policy on AIAA, with somewhat diminished attendance at our recently held Aerospace Sciences Meeting, especially among personnel from the U.S. Army, who have been prohibited from traveling to any type of conference. Our sister societies have likewise felt the impact of these rules, with some of them already having had to cancel their annual meetings on extremely short notice due to lack of agency support for speaker participation as well as attendance."

Sequestration and Planetary Exploration, Future Planetary Exploration (Van Kane)

"I'd hoped that I'd never need to write this post. The latest news in the United States is that a poison pill known as the Sequester is looking increasingly likely. If it happens, it will be a body blow to NASA's planetary science program."

Sequestration: A Primer for the Perplexed, Science

"On 1 March, an $85-billion across-the-board cut in federal spending--the first step in a mandatory $1.2 trillion reduction over 10 years--will go into effect unless all sides agree to delay it or substitute something else. Indeed, when the Budget Control Act that created sequestration was enacted in August 2011, both sides expected to have an alternative in place by now. That didn't happen."

Code Red: NASA Safety Panel's Warning on Funding Uncertainty, AIP

"Earlier this month the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel issued its 2012 Annual Report. Looking for hazards across the space agency's wide-ranging portfolio of on-going and proposed operations and facilities, the panel assessed six issues and concerns. Only one of the six in the three-color-coded graphic was red: the continuing issue of funding uncertainty. "NASA's budget is the 'elephant in the room' both for commercial space and for longer term exploration" the panel warned."

"Nearly four years after launching its Kepler space telescope to search for worlds outside our solar system, NASA officials confirmed Tuesday they had yet to find a planet with sufficient resources to support the space-exploration agency and its 18,000 employees."

179 Trips To The Moon

179 Round Trips to the Moon & 7 Other Things You Could Do in the Time Since Senate Democrats Last Passed a Budget, Speaker of the House John Boehner

"If you follow the same plan as the crew of Apollo 11, you could fly to the moon and back 179 times."

Keith's note: (really) quick and rough budget snapshot: Apollo was estimated to cost roughly $170 billion in 2005 dollars - divide that total cost by 25 or so Apollo/Skylab missions and you get a rough average of $6.8 billion/flight. So doing Apollo 179 times (in 4 years!) would costaround $1trillion ... oh and you'd need a dozen copies of KSC to do it in that time frame - but that is still not enough to buy a Death Star however.

White House Deletes Death Star Funds from NASA's FY2014 Budget, earlier post.

NASA MEPAG #27 Cancellation Notice

"Delays in the federal budget process means that the President's traditional budget message is unlikely to occur by the time of the presently scheduled February 26 and 27th MEPAG meeting in Washington D.C. You are surely all aware of the announcement in December at the Fall AGU meeting by Associate Administrator John Grunsfeld that NASA intends to launch a new rover to Mars in 2020. However, the 2020 Rover Science Definition Team is just now being formed and will not be far enough into its deliberations to give a meaningful out-brief in February."

White House tells Paul Ryan it won't meet budget deadline, The Hill

"Congress and the White House struck a budget deal on New Year's Eve that avoided tax hikes on middle-class families and delayed a 2013 budget sequester until March. That last-minute "fiscal cliff" deal has thrown a wrench into the annual budget process, sources say, because it did not finalize 2013 appropriations or replace nearly $1 trillion in automatic discretionary cuts imposed by the August 2011 debt-ceiling deal. "They have no baseline," one expert said. The expert said it may also be the case that the administration does not want the budget to be taken as an opening offer in the coming fight over raising the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. The Congressional Budget Office also faces fiscal cliff-related challenges in writing its annual budget outlook. That outlook, which normally comes out in January, is coming out Feb. 4, CBO announced Monday."

This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For, White House

"The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

- The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
- The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
- Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"

Keith's note: So ... is Charlie Bolden going to pound the table with his light saber over this latest snub from the White House?

Hey - Let's Make NASA Build a Deathstar! (Update), Earlier post

NASA Fiscal Cliff Update

Implications of Enactment of the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" for NASA

"The agreement reached by Congress and signed by the President delays sequestration for a period of two months, until March 1, 2013. Accordingly, no automatic reductions in budgetary resources will take place at this time. The deal provides Congress with additional time to work on a balanced plan that can prevent these automatic spending cuts from ever occurring. This means that, for the time being, there will be no changes to our day-to-day operations or any personnel actions taken due to the threat of sequestration. We will continue to operate as normal. As the new deadline approaches, and until such time as Congress acts to permanently cancel these reductions, I will continue to keep you informed of all relevant developments."

Editorial on NASA Planetary R&A Programs, Mark V. Sykes, Planetary Science Institute

"At a minimum, this year's decline needs to be reversed to ensure that selection rates are improved to stop the imminent loss of the younger generation of planetary scientists as well as many seasoned researchers. The cost is frankly small and demands high priority. Multi-year budget planning is essential. We also face significant negative consequences from the effective collapse of the Discovery program combined with the termination of the Mars Scount program."

- NASA SMD Responds to Community Budget Priority Concerns, earlier post
- Losing a Generation of Planetary Scientists, earlier post
- Independent Look at NASA Planetary Science Budgets, earlier post

Implications of Ongoing Fiscal Cliff Negotiations for NASA

"As you are all likely aware, the Administration and Congress are continuing to work to resolve a series of economic or fiscal events, collectively referred to as the "fiscal cliff," that are scheduled to occur around the end of the year. One of the key issues involves potential across-the-board reductions in Federal spending-- also known as "sequestration"-- that were put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under current law, these reductions are scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013. Many of you have raised questions regarding the impact of a potential sequestration for NASA, and I would like to take a moment to clarify a few things."

Guidance for Administrative Furloughs, OPM, December 2012

"An administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency which is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any other budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations. This type of furlough is typically a non- emergency furlough in that the agency has sufficient time to reduce spending and give adequate notice to employees of its specific furlough plan and how many furlough days will be required. An example of when such a furlough may be necessary is when, as a result of Congressional budget decisions, an agency is required to absorb additional reductions over the course of a fiscal year."

NASA Planetary Division Management Responds to Community Concerns, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"Contrary to statements being made by some individuals in the science community, the recent announcement of the Mars 2020 rover has nothing to do with the current R&A selection rates nor has it impacted the current or projected amounts to be spent in the R&A program. The Mars 2020 rover will be designed to "conduct mobile surface-based science at a site selected for its ability to preserve evidence of life, and prepare for the future return of samples per the NRC Planetary Decadal Survey."

Keith's note: I find it to be a little odd that Jim Green would wait until Christmas Eve to send out his official NASA response - and only send it to one newsletter - not to the rest of the media via PAO. It is sort of hard to reach the space science community using this approach.

Study Warns of Sequestration Impacts to NASA, NOAA Programs, AIA

"As negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff heat up, little attention has been paid to the impact that mandatory budget cuts would have on the nation's civil space program and our ability to accurately forecast dangerous storms."

Study: Thousands would lose jobs from NASA, NOAA budget cuts, Government Executive

"The Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group for government contractors, found in its study that the automatic cuts set to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013, unless there is a deficit reduction deal would cost 20,500 NASA contractors their jobs in 2013 ... AIA based its estimates on the Office of Management and Budget's guidelines that sequestration would slash both agencies' budgets by 8.2 percent."

1,300 aerospace jobs said at risk in Huntsville if nation goes over fiscal cliff, Huntsville Times

"More than 1,300 aerospace jobs will be at risk in Huntsville in 2013 if the national budget goes over the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to an aerospace industry study released Thursday."

Will NASA fall off the fiscal cliff? Budget cuts to cost Houston more than 5,000 NASA jobs, study says, Houston Business Journal

"A report from the Aerospace Industries Association found that if the 8.2 percent cut to NASA's budget goes through, 5,610 jobs would be lost at Houston's Johnson Space Center next year. This would have a direct impact of more than $320 million."

NASA's Deep-Space Station Idea Lacks White House Approval

"NASA has not cleared the EM-L2 outpost with the White House, and the space agency has not requested funding for it in the current fiscal year or the subsequent one, the official told SPACE.com. "So it's kind of just one of those one-off projects that [NASA hopes if it goes] to the press, or to [Capitol] Hill, that it'll get funded," the official added. "But I don't think that's going to be the case."

Charlie Bolden Intends To Press President Obama on Mars Mission Mandate for NASA

"At one point, Bolden teared up and said that "Mars is the Goal". Bolden claimed that he was intent upon going to the White House, "pounding his shoe on the table", and demanding a commitment from President Obama to direct NASA to send humans to Mars. Bolden said that he needs that commitment to allow him to decide what to do (not do) with regard to extending the ISS."

Keith's note: When NASA gets its FY 2013 budget passback from OMB they will see that in addition to not approving the L2 station, there is none of the additional, strong Mars commitment that Charlie Bolden declared must be in the budget (other than what the President has already said, that is). No word yet as to whether Bolden has requested a meeting at the White House for his shoe pounding event.

The Paradox of NASA Budget Cuts, IVN

"The estimated $1 trillion cost of the JSF program dwarfs that of NASA's $25 billion Apollo program. Yet, despite NASA's historical successes and technological breakthroughs, its budget will face another round of crippling cuts next year that is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. These cuts are now becoming a trend for the White House based on recent fiscal budget proposals sent to Congress."

Felix Baumgartner Sounds Off on NASA, Sir Richard Branson, Daily Beast

"A lot of guys they are talking about landing on Mars," he said. "Because [they say] it is so important to land on Mars because we would learn a lot more about our planet here, our Earth, by going to Mars which actually makes no sense to me because we know a lot about Earth and we still treat our planet, which is very fragile, in a really bad way. "So I think we should perhaps spend all the money [which is] going to Mars to learn about Earth. I mean, you cannot send people there because it is just too far away. That little knowledge we get from Mars I don't think it does make sense." Earlier this year Nasa landed the Curiosity rover on Mars. The plutonium powered robot will explore the surface of the Red Planet for upwards of 10 years at a cost of $2.5 billion ( 1.5 billion). "That is tax money," Mr Baumgartner, 43, added. "People should decide 'are you willing to spend all this money to go to Mars?' I think the average person on the ground would never spend that amount of money - they have to spend it on something that makes sense and this is definitely saving our planet."

Keith's note: I find it baffling, to say the least, that someone like commercial thrill seeker Felix Baumgartner - who just did something rather gutsy and improbable by jumping from a balloon 24 miles above Earth - thinks that sending humans to Mars is not possible because "it is just too far away". Really, Felix? How defeatist of you. As for the cost of what NASA does - the last time I checked, Felix was not an American taxpayer (you know, the people who actually pay those "taxes" for NASA) but rather, is an Austrian citizen. NASA doesn't get Austrian tax funding. It would seem, based on some simple Google searches, that Austria doesn't really have much of a space program to speak of. Nor do they seem to want one. Yet decades of polls clearly show that Americans really like their space program.

So, Felix ... we'll run our space program the way we want to - and perhaps you should focus your space exploration criticism at home - where you pay your taxes? Maybe Austria can have a space program someday.

Oh yes, Felix, since you raised the point: how many millions of dollars did your skydive project cost? How did it help to "save our planet"?

Red Bull Pays Record U.K. Fine for Failing to Recycle Packaging Waste, Environmental Leader

"Soft drink company Red Bull has been fined 271,800 (about $448,400) for failing to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste for eight years between 1999 and 2006, ... This beats the previous highest fine of 225,000 (about $371,107) that was imposed in January 2008 on a company that also failed to register as a producer of packaging..." (hat tip to @SarcasticRover).

Keith's update: It would seem that Felix Baumgartner has some other controversial things to say. I don't think he's going to be invited to speak at many space events ...

Baumgartner: "Wir wrden eine gemigte Diktatur brauchen" (Google Translate: Baumgartner: "We would need a moderate dictatorship"), Kleine Zeitung

"Ist ein Wechsel in die Politik eine Option fr Ihre Zukunft? FELIX BAUMGARTNER: Nein, man hat das am Beispiel Schwarzenegger gesehen: Du kannst in einer Demokratie nichts bewegen. Wir wrden eine gemigte Diktatur brauchen, wo es ein paar Leute aus der Privatwirtschaft gibt, sie sich wirklich auskennen."

[Google Translate] "Is a change in the policy is an option for your future? FELIX BAUMGARTNER: No, we have seen the example of the Schwarzenegger: You can not move anything in a democracy. We would need a moderate dictatorship, where there are a few people from the private sector, they know really."

Daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner opts for 'moderate dictatorship', AFP

"Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian parachutist who broke the sound barrier by jumping to earth from the stratosphere said in an interview published Sunday he backed the idea of a dictatorship, though a moderate one."

Sen. Coburn: "Washington is set to spend at least $3.6 trillion this year while running a $1.3 trillion deficit. The waste is overflowing and it's time to take out the trash. This coming Tuesday, October 16, we'll be releasing our annual Wastebook 2012 edition."

Download link (Now online)

Keith's note: This year's cover includes the Planet Mars and Darth Vader.

Senator Tom Coburn's Annual Waste Book 2012 - NASA Excerpts

"Imagine pizza so out of this world, you would have to travel to Mars to have a slice. That is the goal of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Advanced Food Technology Project, which has already developed a recipe for pizza and about 100 other foods that could be served some day on Mars. Of course, NASA no longer has a manned spaced fleet and no current mission plans for human space flight to Mars, but some are hopeful a trip to the red planet could possibly be taken in the mid-2030s at the earliest. Even this goal is optimistic, however, due to budget constraints that have reduced the appetite for costly space missions. Yet, NASA spends about $1 million annually "researching and building the Mars menu."This year, NASA also awarded $947,000 to researchers at Cornell University and the University of Hawaii to study the best food for astronauts to eat on Mars."

Final Report: NASA's Challenges to Meeting Cost, Schedule, and Performance Goals, NASA OIG

"Cost increases and schedule delays on NASA's projects are long-standing issues for the Agency. A 2004 Congressional Budget Office study compared the initial and revised budgets of 72 NASA projects between 1977 and 2000. The initial budgets for these projects totaled $41.1 billion, while their revised budgets totaled $66.3 billion, a 61 percent increase. Moreover, since its first annual assessment of NASA projects in 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has consistently reported on cost growth and schedule delays in the Agency's major projects. For example, in its 2012 assessment GAO reported an average development cost growth of approximately 47 percent, or $315 million, much of which was attributable to JWST. As GAO noted, cost and schedule increases on large projects like JWST can have a cascading effect on NASA's entire portfolio."

NASA learns the dark side of a sunny outlook, Federal Computer Week

"Then the IG noted the "Hubble Psychology." The report defined it as "an expectation among NASA personnel that projects that fail to meet cost and schedule goals will receive additional funding and that subsequent scientific and technological success will overshadow any budgetary and schedule problems." In other words, NASA officials believe that major NASA projects will get funding for science's sake, despite how the projects are managed. The Hubble Space Telescope is one major project that exemplifies the risks of optimism in the report. The program has had its problems, but they have been mostly forgotten, the IG wrote."

White House details automatic cuts, calls them 'blunt, indiscriminate', The Hill

"Cuts of approximately $110 billion are set to take effect in Jan. 3, according to an agreement reached by the administration and Congress, with half of the cuts falling on discretionary and non-discretionary defense budgets, and the other half affecting non-defense budgets."

U.S. budget sequester cuts science over 8 percent, Nature

"NASA would lose $417 million from its science budget, $346 for space operations, $309 for exploration, $246 for cross agency support, among other cuts."

Sequestration Would Cut U.S. Science Budgets By 8.2%, White House Estimates, Science

"NASA's science programs would drop by $417 million to about $4.7 billion, and its Exploration account would fall by $309 million to about $3.5 billion."

Sequestration report: Embassy security cut by $129 million, Human Events

"Other alarming cuts include $1.4 billion in funding for NASA ..."

- OMB Sequestration Update Report to the President and Congress for Fiscal Year 2013, White House
- OMB Report Pursuant to the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (P. L. 112-155), White House

NASA'S Space Launch System Passes Major Agency Review, Moves to Preliminary Design

"SLS reached this major milestone less than 10 months after the program's inception. The combination of the two assessments represents a fundamentally different way of conducting NASA program reviews. The SLS team is streamlining processes to provide the nation with a safe, affordable and sustainable heavy-lift launch vehicle capability. The next major program milestone is the preliminary design review, targeted for late next year."

Keith's note: Of course no mention is made by NASA of all the previous work (and considerable expense) that was put into Ares 1 and Ares V - which supposedly supported much of the current SLS design. NASA never mentions these "other" programs - and what they cost - and yet tries to make it sound like they just pulled off a neat low-cost/high speed trick - the same way the advertised "low" cost of Mars Phoenix never took actual Mars Polar Lander development costs into account.

Politics and NASA

For NASA, there's no liftoff from politics, USA Today

"The glass is either half-full or half-empty at NASA," says space policy expert John Logsdon, author of John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon. The agency won approval to proceed with building the SLS last year but faces doubts in Congress over the lack of a long-term vision. "NASA's budget only supports a program that is fragile and doesn't make long-term sense," Logsdon says. As an example, he points to the SLS, which will launch in 2017 and carry astronauts only in 2021, with a less-defined schedule thereafter."

There's still hope for NASA, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"But the going gets tougher in the political arena, where NASA and JSC have taken some serious hits in their budgets and faced even more serious questioning of their mission over the past few years. The results are obvious and troubling. It galls Mike Coats that "we're not a space-faring nation right now" because of the retirement of the space shuttle. Instead, he laments, "we're paying the Russians a lot of money to fly our people up there." He's galled because we're paying a lot of Russian engineers when he'd like to be hiring American engineers."


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