NASA’s Budget: A Comparison

Below is a comparison of the President’s FY 2012 budget request for NASA with the budgets approved by House and Senate appropriators. I’ve included figures for some of the key programs within each area where I have been able to find them.






Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle System$1,800,000,000$1,800,000,000$1,985,000,000
Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle$1,010,200,000$1,200,000,000$1,063,000,000
Commercial Space Flight$850,000,000$500,000,000$312,000,000
Exploration Research and Development$288,500,000$275,000,000$289,000,000

Space Technology

Crosscutting Space Technology$497,100,000$210,400,000
Exploration Technology$310,000,000$212,500,000
SBIR and STTR$184,000,000$184,100,000
Partnership Development and Strategic Integration$33,000,000$30,000,000

Space Operations

International Space Station$2,841,500,000$2,803,500,000$2,767,000
Space and Flight Support$840,000,000$662,600,000$749,000,000
Space Shuttle$664,900,000$650,900,000$548,000,000
21st Century Launch Complex$168,000,000$168,000,000$60,000,000


Earth Science$1,797,400,000$1,765,500,000$1,699,000,000
Planetary Science$1,540,700,000$1,500,400,000$1,500,000,000
James Webb Space Telescope$373,700,000$529,600,000-0-





Cross Agency Support


Constructions and  Environmental Compliance and Restoration


Office of Inspector General




The Senate cuts the President’s request by almost $800 million but provides the space agency with $1.1 billion more than the House plan.

The Senate is also more generous with the commercial crew program, providing $500 million instead of $312 million. Both amounts are well below the $850 million requested by NASA. Both the House and the Senate provide $3 billion for the Space Launch System and Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, which is $200 million above the Administration’s request.

The Senate also is much more generous with Space Technology funding, providing $637 million while the House funds that budget at $375 million. The Administration had requested over $1 billion for these activities.

The House cuts $500 million from the Administration’s request for Science while the Senate provides slightly more than was proposed. The main difference is the James Web Space Telescope: the House canceled over budget and behind schedule observatory while the Senate provides almost $530 million for it.

The Senate also fully funds the 21st Century Launch Complex program at $168 million while the House provides $60 million. This program  is designed to upgrade the Kennedy Space Center and other NASA launch facilities.


Senate Gives $500M to Commercial Crew, Limits Future Use of Space Act Agreements

In the last three days, the Senate has proposed:

  • cutting NASA’s overall budget by over a half billion dollars;
  • spending $3 billion on a massive heavy-lift program and Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle that probably won’t fly people for 10 years;
  • slashing the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program from a proposed $850 million to $500 million;
  • dictating that NASA conduct the CCDev program in the most complicated, expensive and time consuming manner possible.

Welcome to the Congressional sausage factor, 21st century style. Real pretty, ain’t it? And congratulations to the Russians. If this plays out like I think it will, NASA will continue to pay you ever increasing amounts of money for many more years to come to send its astronauts to a station it primarily funded.

But, enough of this. Let’s get to the numbers for human spaceflight in the Senate proposal. Key excerpts are below.


NASA, ATK Agree to Unfunded Space Act Agreement on Liberty Rocket

Press Conference

Ed Mango, Commercial Crew Program manager, NASA

  • Unfunded Space Act agreement with ATK that will run through next spring
  • NASA and ATK will share information on the rocket and human rating requirements and cooperate on an evaluation of the Liberty rocket

Kent Rominger, vice president, Strategy and Business Development, ATK Aerospace:

  • Upper stage has 45 consecutive launches as part of Ariane V
  • Can launch any of the commercial crew vehicles out there to date
  • Amazing how the upper stage matches up with the lower stage
  • In 2010, President Obama approved a new space policy saying we wanted to extend our international cooperation
  • Have a very rigorous design that was designed to lift humans from the start
  • Two commercial companies are taking technology designed to very high standards and creating a commercial rocket


Space Review: In Congress, Everyone Can Hear You Scream

In The Space Review this week….

An enduring value proposition for NASA human spaceflight (part 4)
In the fourth part of her ongoing analysis of a value proposition for NASA’s human spaceflight program, Mary Lynne Dittmar examines the role Congress plays, or should play, in shaping that value proposition.

A quarter century of smallsat progress
The last 25 years has seen a resurgence of interest in small satellites, which had been all but neglected after the early years of the Space Age. Jeff Foust reports on the developments that have triggered renewed interest in smallsats and the challenges they face to greater adoption.

A rationale for human spaceflight
There are various, and often conflicting, arguments for why humans should go into space. Greg Anderson explains why he things the arguments should be based on how it is critical to the future development and survival of humanity.

Review: Apollo 18
In space, claimed the tagline of a famous science fiction film, no one can hear you scream. After seeing the new and somewhat controversial film Apollo 18, Jeff Foust finds, you’ll wonder if anyone can hear you yawn.

NASA’s CCDev 2 Progress Report

Dream Chaser cockpit simulator. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

NASA PR — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), together with its industry partners, continued progressing toward commercial human spaceflight capability by mid-decade by successfully completing all five planned milestones during this 60-day period.

  • Readiness of a new cockpit simulator for Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft was verified and is now being used for engineering development tests.
  • The tip fin airfoil design for the Dream Chaser was also selected.
  • A launch abort system concept review for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which showed feasibility of their design concept
  • Boeing’s CST100 “phase zero” safety review, which identified initial safety considerations and controls
  • Boeing’s fourth CST100 integrated design review, which established design trade studies to be conducted before Boeing’s preliminary design review next year

Chart showing completed tasks and upcoming milestones for all four CCDev 2 partners and United Launch Alliance as of Aug. 16 are shown after the break.


Video: Astronaut Sings the Blues on International Space Station

Learning his return to Earth from the International Space Station might be delayed for possibly up to two months, NASA astronaut Ron Garan sings the blues from the Soyuz spacecraft that will take him home. Eventually. It’s all in good fun, so enjoy. (Note: Since Ron and the Expedition 28 crew made this video during some weekend downtime, return options have been under review by NASA).

The members of Expedition 28 are Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa, Sergei Volkov.

Report: ISS Could Get Back to Normal at the End of October

Anatoly Zak at Russian Space Web reports on a preliminary schedule for returning Soyuz to flight and staffing the International Space Station.

As of August 30, the upcoming station milestones looked as following:

  • Sept. 16 (Sept. 15, 11:30 p.m. Houston Time): Soyuz TMA-21 (Tail No. 231; ISS mission 26S) landing (Delayed from Sept. 8);
  • Sept. 25: Soyuz-2-1B/GLONASS-M launch (return to flight for the Soyuz family of rockets);
  • Oct. 13: Progress M-10M (Tail No. 410; ISS mission 42P) undocking from the station;
  • Oct. 14: Progress M-13M (Tail No. 413; ISS mission 45P) launch (a test flight of the Soyuz-U rocket);
  • Oct. 28: Soyuz TMA-22 (Tail No. 232; ISS mission 28S) launch (delayed from Sept. 22);

This schedule involves two launches of the Soyuz booster, one of which will carry Progress freighters to the station, prior to the next human mission.  If the plan holds, ISS will be down to three crew members for just over six weeks. NASA officials say that this crew size is perfectly safe, although little science work will get done during that period.

NASA: ISS Might Need to Be Temporarily Abandoned in November

Russia has until late November to determine a fix for the problem that caused a Soyuz rocket and Progress freighter to crash last week or the crew will have to temporarily abandon the International Space Station, a NASA official has told Spaceflight Now. The problem, ironically, involves not station operations but rather harsh winter weather at the Soyuz landing site in Kazakhstan.


Cool Pics: Russians Show Next-Generation Human Spacecraft to Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin inside of a full-size mockup of Russia's six-passenger "Rus" spacecraft. (Credit: RSC Energia)

MOSCOW  — August 19, 2011 (Energia PR) — In Zhukovsky, Moscow region, the 10th International Aerospace Show (MAKS-2011), which was held on August 16 through 21, has completed its work.

The Corporation’s stand, which was a part of the joint exhibit of the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos), was a continuous focus of attention for a great number of visitors, among whom there were specialists from aviation and space companies of Russia and other countries, scientists, representatives of business circles, university students and teachers, veterans of the industry, journalists, aerospace aficionados.


Cool Pic: Orion MPCV Abort Acoustics Test

Standing five stories tall fully stacked, the Launch Abort System was mounted atop the Orion MPCV, or Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, last week at the Lockheed Martin’s facilities near Denver. Orion is being prepared for the next round of testing in an acoustic chamber. Each test will expose the Orion MPCV and its launch abort system to acoustic levels exceeding 150 decibels while instruments record the vehicle’s response.

The test vehicles will provide critical data used to model the spacecraft’s capabilities to perform deep space exploration missions. The vehicles will undergo testing at sound pressure levels that emulate those experienced at launch and in the event an abort is needed to carry the crew to safety away from a potential problem on the launch pad or during ascent.

This Week on The Space Review: The Rocket Boys From Brazil

The Russo-Brazilian Southern Cross rocket family with the Ukrainian Cyclone-4 (third from right).

My analysis of the Brazilian space program:

Will a new space power rise along the Atlantic?

Brazil is making a major push to turn its equatorial spaceport into a major hub of launch activity. Doug Messier reports on the various initiatives underway and the challenges the country faces to join the ranks of the world’s space powers.

And the rest:

The evolving ecosystem of NewSpace

When most people think of NewSpace, visions of space tourism and low-cost launchers come to mind. Jeff Foust examines several entrepreneurial space companies that are instead working on technologies that could enable or be enabled by improved access to space.

Of ships and space

Why has the retirement of the shuttle resonated with the general public so much? Stewart Money discusses how the shuttle, unlike spacecraft before or after it, captured the essence of being a ship.

An enduring value proposition for NASA human spaceflight (part 2)

What value does NASA provide to the nation? In the second part of her analysis, Mary Lynne Dittmar argues that value, not widely recognized, is more fundamental than human space exploration.

After the shuttle era, space exploration continues and thrives

Space advocates find themselves having to fight the perception that the end of the shuttle program means “the end” of NASA itself. Lou Friedman says that today is a vibrant time for space exploration, even if those accomplishments aren’t often recognized.

NASA Creates Human Exploration And Operations Directorate

WASHINGTON — NASA PR — NASA has announced the creation of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. The new organization, which combines the Space Operations and Exploration Systems mission directorates, will focus on International Space Station operations and human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

“America is opening a bold new chapter in human space exploration,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “By combining the resources of Space Operations and Exploration Systems, and creating the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, we are recommitting ourselves to American leadership in space for years to come.”