Monday, February 22, 2010

FY11 NASA Budget Proposal Details

NASA today released its detailed proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011 (which starts this October).  Normally this is released with the entire federal budget, but the big picture pieces of NASA's budget (read, manned spaceflight program) were not settled until a day or two before the release of the entire federal budget proposal.  The budget package includes hard figures for the proposed FY11 budget and progressively softer projected figures for out years until 2015.


All figures are mine and are derived from the budget numbers in NASA's documentation.

As I previously reported based on a summary budget, NASA's planetary program is proposed to have a large (10.8%) increase from FY10 to FY11.  Projected budgets show increasingly smaller annual increases that could well fall below the rate of inflation and could lose purchasing power over time.


Big winners in this proposal for FY11 are the Lunar program (31.9% increase), the Mars program (28%), and the technology program (19.7%).  The planetary program does not have to include payment to restart the production of plutonium-238 within its budget.  (I haven't looked elsewhere within NASA and DOE's budgets to see where the dollars are budgeted).



The budget apparently includes enough money in the Outer Planets program to fund early development of the Jupiter Europa Orbiter mission for the next year or two.  However, to fly this mission around 2020, the outer planets budget has to increase by several hundred million a year by FY14.  The budget documents state, "In FY 2010 and FY 2011 NASA will continue to provide funding for further definition study and technology development efforts for the Outer Planets Future mission while awaiting the results of the Decadal Survey establishing the science community's highest joint priorities. NASA will also continue to negotiate the details of potential partnerships with the European Space Agency (ESA) and other international partners."  The budget line for Outer Planets also includes funding for the Casinni mission. Funding for the Cassini mission will be about $60M per year.

The Discovery and New Frontiers missions essentially continue unchanged with each showing small changes year-to-year as missions complete and ramp up development.

Editorial Thoughts: The one time budget increase is nice, but much of it's benefit could be lost due to future inflationary pressure.  Given the increasing pressure to freeze or cut large portions of the federal budget, it's nice that if this budget is substantially approved by Congress that the figure to cut from in the future would start from a larger FY11 number.

There is a large mismatch between NASA's stated intention to fly JEO and the money projected in this budget.  Put simply, if JEO flies, then something else must shrink or go away.  Consider what would be needed if by 2015, JEO might need as much as ~$600M.  To give you an idea of how challenging this would be, funding JEO at $600M in FY15 could be done by budgeting $100M from the Outer Planets program, eliminating the Lunar Quest program, eliminating the New Frontiers program, and taking about $150M from the Mars program (which would probably make Mars Sample Return undoable in the early 2020s.)  I want to emphasize that I don't know the exact funding required by JEO in FY15; this is a guesstimate from figures published in EJSM Final Report.  However, the actual figure will be large, and $500-600M is probably in the right ballpark.

Another alternative would be to plan a less ambitious outer planets program that focuses on several New Frontiers class missions instead of a single flagship mission.  Over time, the total figure might be the same, but funding peaks could be lower.  Here is what one program might look like (using projected FY15 budget numbers):
  • Mars $485M
  • Outer Planets $450M (more slowly implemented JEO or a series of New Frontiers class missions)
  • Discovery (for inner planets/primitive bodies) $313M
What would be lost under this concept would be the Lunar and New Frontiers programs.

It appears that NASA will make the final decisions on how to program future budgets based on the recommendations of the Decadal Survey.  So I view the budget numbers past FY13 a simply running out the program as it is understood today.  Depending on what the Decadal Survey proposes, budgets for FY14 onwards may look very different than what is presented here.

Resources:

Planetary budget proposal http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/428154main_Planetary_Science.pdf

Other NASA budget documents http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html

Additional Budget Background: The following paragraphs are quoted from the budget document and discuss what future programs would be funded.


Mars: "The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and (if technically possible) both Spirit and Opportunity rovers (MER) will continue to explore and perform data analysis throughout FY 2011. Concept studies with the ESA-NASA 2016/2018 partnership missions will finalize and the Mars 16 mission will enter into formulation phase by the end of FY 2011."

Outer Planets: "NASA Cassini will continue its historic operations and data analysis. In FY 2010 and FY 2011 NASA will continue to provide funding for further definition study and technology development efforts for the Outer Planets Future mission while awaiting the results of the Decadal Survey establishing the science community's highest joint priorities. NASA will also continue to negotiate the details of potential partnerships with the European Space Agency (ESA) and other international partners."

Lunar: "LADEE completed its preliminary design review in FY 2009 and will enter Implementation Phase (KDP-C) in late FY 2010. The ILN/Lunar Surface Science mission will continue with its the risk reduction efforts during FY 2011. NASA will negotiate and work the Plutonium restart capability with DOE throughout FY 2011." 

Discovery: "A new Discovery 12 AO selection will be made by the end of FY 2011 following the AO release in early CY 2010."

New Frontiers: "Having recently chosen three concept studies to pursue in 2010, NASA expects to select one New Frontiers 3 mission to proceed into Phase B (or an extended Phase A) by third quarter to late FY 2011."

Technology Development: "The In-Space Propulsion Program (ISP) will continue toward a completion of the NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) electric propulsion life validation. The Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) Program, working with the Department of Energy, will start the flight development of the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ARSG) that would support a flight in the 2014-2015 timeframe. Furthermore, the RPS Program continues to develop technologies and processes to support current and future NASA missions. The Advanced Multi-Mission Operation System (AMMOS) project will continue to develop the multi-mission software tools for spacecraft navigation and mission planning throughout FY 2011."

1 comment:

  1. thanks to your information, I did my school exhibition

    ReplyDelete