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Money, Management Are Key To Avoiding NASA Failures, House Panel Hears

By | September 27, 2000

      In addition to management reorganization efforts that are under way, future NASA space science projects simply will need more money if they are to avoid failures like the ones that plagued the space agency’s Mars exploration program last year.

      That was the consensus at a congressional hearing Sept. 14 in which Edward Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for space science, addressed the future of the agency’s space science programs.

      Appearing before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, a subcommittee of the House Science Committee, Weiler admitted that the past year has not been an easy one for NASA.

      “The failures served as a wake-up call to take a long, hard look at our Mars Program,” he said, referring to the losses of the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars Polar Lander.

      Despite the past year’s setbacks, more money will be made available. “It is encouraging to see that the President proposed increasing the space science budget by $200 million over each of the next four years,” Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said in his opening remarks. “HR 1654, the NASA reauthorization bill, bumps this figure up another $19 million in funding for space science over the President’s request in FY ’01,” Rohrabacher added. Fiscal Year 2001 begins Oct. 1.

      On Sept. 15, the U.S. House approved HR 1654, authorizing $13.6 billion for this fiscal year, $14.2 billion for 2001 and $14.6 for 2002.

      The bill set a cost cap of $25 billion for the ISS in an effort to control the program’s cost growth. The legislation also prohibits designing, procuring or developing a replacement inflatable space module but does allow NASA to lease such a module under certain conditions.

      Additionally, the bill provides a 10.8 percent boost in FY ’01 and a 14.3 percent increase in FY ’02 for life and microgravity research. This area has seen a roughly $1 billion reduction over the last four years.

      “Sending this NASA authorization legislation to the President will mark the first time Congress has done so since 1992,” said James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). “We’ve also built a strong bipartisan consensus on the policies needed to improve management of the Space Station program, which will serve as the backbone of our Human Spaceflight program for the next two decades.”

      NASA Budget Comparison
      FY200
      FY2002
      President’s Request
      HR 1654
      Difference
      President’s Request
      HR 1654
      Difference
      Human Space Flight
      5,499.9
      5,499.9
      0
      5,387.6
      5,387.6
      0
      Science Aeronatics & Tech
      5,929.4
      6,078.5
      2.5%
      6,388.9
      6,548.9
      2.5%
      Mission Support
      2584.0
      2584.0
      0
      2,666.2
      2,666.2
      0
      Inspector General
      22.0
      22.0
      0
      22.7
      22.7
      0
      Total
      14,035.30
      14,184.40
      1.0%
      14,465.4
      14,465.4
      1.1%
      Source: NASA


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