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$17.65 billion FY 2014 NASA budget finally takes shape

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The NASA budget for the current fiscal year is finally taking shape, according to a January 14, 2014 post on Space Policy Online. NASA will get to spend $17.65 billion on its various operations and activities, far more than the $16.1 billion that many feared under sequestration but a little short of the $18 billion that some in Congress desired.

The rough breakdown of NASA spending looks like this:

“$4,113 million for exploration, of which

$696 million is for commercial crew, with $171 million available only after the Administrator certifies that the program has undergone an independent benefit-cost analysis

$1,197 million is for Orion

$1,918 million is for Space Launch System (SLS) of which $1,600 million is for launch vehicle development and $318 million is for exploration ground systems

$302 million is for exploration research and development

$5,151 million for science, of which $80 million is for pre-formulation or formulation activities for a Europa mission, and the James Webb Space Telescope's development costs remain capped at $8 billion

$576 million for space technology

$566 million for aeronautics

$3,778 million for space operations

$116.6 million for education, of which

$18 million is for EPSCOR and

$40 million is for Space Grant

$2,793 million for Cross Agency Support

$515 million for Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration

$37.5 million for Inspector General”

According to Space Politics there are a number of provisions within the omnibus spending bill the affects NASA policy.

For instance, while planetary science gets only a modest increase over the administration’s request, Congress presses NASA to accelerate the selection of the next Discovery class mission, with an announcement of opportunity no later than May 1, 2014 and a selection of one or more missions in September, 2015.

The bill notes that NASA needs to conduct an independent cost/benefit analysis for the commercial crew program that takes into account the cost to the federal government and the expected life of the International Space Station. A little uncertainty as to the latter has arisen thanks to the recent announcement of the extension of the ISS to 2024.

NASA prohibits NASA from diverting funds from the Space Launch System program to engineering or other activities unrelated to SLS.

Under space operations, “The bill sets aside $100 million for a satellite servicing program, and the report includes a provision directing NASA to propose policies or legislation that address intellectual property concerns regarding ISS research.”

Finally the bill extends the commercial launch liability indemnification provision for another three years.

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