Interesting points about NASA’s fiscal year (FY) 2012 Budget from the numbers:
- NASA’s overall budget is cut by $275.7M from the authorized amount of $19,000M to $18,724.3M.
- $1B is cut from the SLS
- Human spaceflight increased by $59 million from the authorized amount of $2,751M to a proposed amount of $2,810.2M.
- Commercial crewed spaceflight increased by $238 million from the authorized amount of $610M to a proposed amount of $850M.
- Exploration R&D, which was authorized at $343M, is cut by $54.5 million and budgeted at $288.5M. According to NASA CFO Robinson stated in today’s
- The total Exploration budget that was authorized at $3,706M is increased by $242.7M. The vast majority of that increase, 80% actually, is in crewed commercial funding.
- NASA has budgeted $400M for commercial crewed access under the Space and Flight Support budget.
- NASA’s Science budget gets a very small funding boost of $11.2M.
- NASA’s Aeronautics budget is cut by $10.2M from the authorized amount of $579.6M to $569.4M.
- It is understood that this budget, and the numbers within, are notional and depend upon what is actually appropriated.
NASA CFO Elizabeth Robinson discussed the budget–the slides for her presentation are available at NASA–and talked quite a bit about SLS and MPCV. According to Ms. Robinson, the MPCV will be budgeted at $1B, based on the Block 2 Orion crewed vehicle, and its configuration finalized sometime this spring. In closing, CFO Robinson made clear that NASA’s FY 2012 budget reflects the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.
In the Q&A session, AvWeek’s Morring asked whether $400M is enough to motivate sufficient private investment to get commercial crewed companies off the ground and survive? NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden responded that NASA was investing in these companies and is looking at their business models.
Administrator Bolden stated that in effect SLS and MPCV were cut in favor of commercial crew to keep access to ISS and maintain its safety for the astronauts there. That cut of $1B to SLS means that the budget fight of last year will once again be revisited. While Bolden states that NASA’s budget is in-line with the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, cutting $1B from the SLS (Sect. 302 of the NASA Act) will not seem to be in-line with the will of Congress as stated in the Act.