Text of Letter to NASA From HS&T Asking For Budget Details by June 16

Text of Letter to NASA From HS&T Asking For Budget Details by June 16

The bipartisan leadership of the House Science and Technology (HS&T) committee and its Space and Aeronautics subcommittee sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden yesterday, the text of which is available here. It asks for budget details by June 16, 2010 so the committee can proceed with writing an authorization bill for the agency, and stresses that the funding projections for NASA’s human spaceflight program do not meet what the Augustine Committee said was necessary to fund any of the options it identified.

Signed by committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), full committee ranking member Ralph Hall (R-TX), subcommittee chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and subcommittee ranking member Pete Olson (R-TX), the letter asks NASA to provide budget details about the new plan for human spaceflight taking into account the new initatives announced by President Obama on April 15 (a crew escape vehicle for the International Space Station and a $40 million jobs fund for Florida space workers). Gen. Bolden told the committee at a May 26 hearing that the agency would be submitting a revised FY2011 budget request “in the near future,” but would not specify when.

The congressional letter suggests that the committee is skeptical that the new Obama plan is any more executable in terms of budget than the Constellation program the President wants to cancel. It specifically asks NASA to provide not only the planned budgets, but “the budgetary analysis and assumptions used to demonstrate the executability of your proposed plan….”

The letter points out that the amount of human spaceflight funding requested in the FY2011 runout is about the same as what was in the FY2010 runout, which the Augustine committee concluded was insufficient to fund any of its options. It also reveals that budget guidance given to NASA through the year 2025 — the date by which NASA is supposed to send a human mission to an asteroid — is “$40-50 billion less than the amount the Augustine panel said would be needed to execute any of its exploration options.”

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