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Informational Email #2009-19 - Appropriations for NASA, NSF Headed to Conference
Anita Krishnamurthi, John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow


SUBJECT: FY2010 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill

SUMMARY: The Senate has just passed the FY2010 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill, which appropriates funds for NASA and NSF. The House passed their version back in June. The Bill is now headed to a conference vote where the differences between the House and Senate reports will be reconciled.


NASA: The Administration's budget request for NASA was $18.686 billion, an increase of 5.3% over the FY2009 appropriation of $17.782 billion. The NASA science budget request was $4.477 billion, 0.6 percent below the FY 2009 appropriation level of $4.503 billion.

The House recommended $18.203 billion overall for NASA and $4.496 billion for science. The Senate provides the full amount of the Administration's request for NASA and provides $4.517 billion for science at NASA. The major difference in NASA funding between the House and Senate reports is that the House appropriators decided not to fully fund the request for the exploration program pending the Augustine report.

The details of the appropriations are in the House Report (111-149) and Senate Report (111-34). The two reports are similar but highlight a couple of different aspects in science funding. The House language directs NASA to provide a projected full lifetime budget outline for the Outer Planets Flagship mission scheduled to launch in 2020. They ask for anticipated contributions from foreign partners and an alternative budget profile that would accelerate the launch to 2018. The House bill also includes funds requested to enable SIM-Lite to continue mission concept, technology and risk reduction efforts in fiscal year 2010. The Senate directs $21M to continue the development of the International Lunar Network and provides the full budget requirements for HST, JWST, and JDEM.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill provide funding for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission and the Solar Probe mission, and call out support for a robust Mars Exploration program. Both bills also allocate $50M within the astrophysics budget to continue efforts for servicing existing and future observatory-class scientific spacecraft.

NSF: The Administration's request for the National Science Foundation for FY2010 was $7.045 billion with a request for Research and Related Activities at $5.7 billion and $117.3 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction.

The House has appropriated $6.94 billion for NSF, $108 million below the President's request and $446 million above 2009. The appropriation for research and related activities is $5.64 billion, an increase of $459 million over the comparable fiscal year 2009 enacted level. The reduction recommended from the request goes to enable increases in research and education funding in NOAA and NASA. The Senate provides $6.92 billion for NSF, which is $426 million above the Fiscal Year 2009 enacted level. This total includes $5.62 billion for research, $122 million for research equipment and facilities; and $857 million for education activities. Advanced LIGO, ALMA, IceCube, and ATST are all fully funded at the requested levels in both versions of the bill.

This bill will now go into a conference vote, which may happen quite quickly, if the Appropriations Bill for the Dept. of Energy was any indication. Rumors are that the final bill will have the Senate numbers for funding. It will then be sent to the President for his signature, at which point it becomes law. This Administration is very supportive of science and that support is reflected in the budgets requested for the various science agencies. NASA's budget has not seen the big increases seen in the NSF, NIST, and DOE budgets. This may be attributed to the uncertainty about the manned spaceflight program at NASA. Now that the Augustine Report has been released, we await the Administration's decision and see what impact, if any, it will have on NASA's science budget.

Stay tuned for more information from the AAS about the budget process in the coming months. If you have questions, or want to help, please drop us an email (krishnamurthi at We will do all we can to make sure you can have a positive impact on the policy process with the least amount of effort and time.

You can also obtain more information about the AAS policy efforts at In particular, check out our "Contact Congress" page at to learn how you can contact members of Congress to ask for their support for science.

Useful links for further information:

Detailed breakdown of the amounts provided for NASA science in House Report -

Detailed breakdown of the amounts provided for NASA science in Senate Report -

AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program page -

AAAS Report XXXIV on R&D in the FY10 budget - (Chapter 14 has a discussion of astronomy in the FY10 budget)

Current status of FY2010 appropriations -

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