House Releases 2011 Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations Committee today released a bill, titled “Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011” for the final fiscal year 2011 continuing resolution that makes “…appropriations for the Department of Defense and the other departments and agencies of the Government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes.

It’s fairly clear that NASA’s funding mirrors the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, as many expected. The fun starts on page 214 and goes on for In Section 1333(a), NASA’s Exploration activities are funded at $3.808 billion. In Subsection (c), $1.2 billion is directed for the Multi-Purpose Crewed Vehicle and $1.8 billion for the Space Launch System heavy lift launch vehicle system having a lift capability of 130 tons, or 117.9 metric tons.

The payload capacity of the SLS is important. In the past few months, NASA leaders had claimed that Section 302 of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act had specified 130 metric tons, or 143 tons (1 ton = 2,000 lbs = 0.907 metric tons). There is $808 million not mentioned in this legislation and we can only assume currently that most of that money is to pay for STS-134, STS-135 and whatever remains for commercial cargo and commercial crew development.

The House appropriations levels for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System are an improvement in funding over that recommended in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. The Act, Section 101, (1), (A) called for $1.12 billion, an $80 million boost, for the MPCV, in (B) $1.631 billion, an $169 million increase, for the Space Launch System. In the Act, in Subpart (E) $300 million was budgeted for commercial cargo and in (F) $312 million for commercial crew development. It is worth asking if the $249 million increase in exploration appropriations is meant to come out of the $612 million budget authorized for commercial cargo and crew.

Here’s a table of the funding information:

House FY 2011 NASA Appropriations

Exploration $3.8083B
MPCV $1.2000B
SLS $1.8000B
Cmrcl Cargo $?
Cmrcl Crew $?
Total expl $3.0000B
Remaining $0.8083B
Space Operations $5.5085B
Science Activities $4.9453B
Aeronautics $0.5350B
Education $0.1458B
Cross Agency Support $3.1114B
Constr, Enviro. Cmplc & Rmdnt $0.3943B
Total appropriations $18.054B

By our count, the funding levels come out to $18.054 billion, leaving a remaining $431 million for other activities such as NASA’s Inspector General and other activities.

Just to put the kibosch on future space activities with China, Section 1340 (a) states, “None of the funds made available by this division may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this division.

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