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NASA Budget Reviews Occupy D.C.

Bolden Testifies; Later, CR Extends Funding Through April 8

NASA Budget Reviews Occupy D.C. The House Science, Space & Technology Committee held a hearing March 2 on NASA's FY 2012 budget request, which proposes $18.7 billion in funds for the space agency.

Administrator Charles Bolden testified before the Committee. Members of Congress from both parties voiced their concerns that the funding priorities outlined in NASA's budget request did not align with the priorities agreed upon in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. Bolden responded to Members' criticism of NASA's budget request, saying that all the priorities in the NASA Authorization Act had been funded in the FY 2012 budget request, but that the tough fiscal environment prevented all the priorities in the NASA Authorization Act from being funded at the levels authorized.

The following day, Bolden testified at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Members of Congress from both parties strongly supported funding NASA's mission in a tight budget environment. Members inquired whether there were duplications in NASA's science missions that could be better handled by other Federal Agencies, such as NOAA and the National Science Foundation. Bolden said he was grateful for Members' support, but expressed his belief that there were no overlaps in NASA's science missions.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation held a hearing on March 15 addressing NASA's programmatic challenges. Witnesses included:

  • Douglas Cooke, associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, NASA
  • William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Leland Melvin, associate administrator, Education, NASA
  • Dr. Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Dr. Edward Weiler, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Dr. Woodrow Whitlow, associate administrator, Mission Support Directorate, NASA

Senators expressed concern that the funding priorities outlined in NASA's budget request did not align with the priorities agreed upon in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. NASA officials said it would be difficult to build the launch vehicle system outlined in the NASA Authorization Act by 2016 and that they expect to release a construction schedule for the rocket in the summer of 2011. 

On March 18, President Obama signed another short-term continuing resolution (CR) that extended funding for the federal government through April 8. The CR cuts $6 billion from the overall federal budget and $63 million from NASA. The NASA cut removes an earmark from the agency's FY 2010 appropriation bill.

To see the Space Foundation's NASA Bbudget comparisons, click here.

Pictured: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

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