Proposed FY14 Budget Lays Foundation for New Discoveries
After the fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget rollout at NASA Headquarters, Center Director Lesa Roe provided insight at the "Langley level," calling the President’s proposed budget, "a positive start and a positive story."
Compared to FY12 (the FY 2013 appropriation for NASA was not enacted at the time that the FY14 request was prepared), the proposed FY14 budget is a 10 percent, or $81 million increase, for the center. According to Roe, this budget will advance science, aeronautics, space technology and exploration programs, and lay the foundation for new discoveries, including missions that will identify, capture and relocate an asteroid, send humans to Mars, and an exciting advanced composites initiative in aeronautics.
Concerning the budget, there are still some important things "to be determined" — including possible sequestration, which the President believes should be replaced with balanced deficit reduction.
"Sequestration does not apply to the proposed (FY14) budget," Roe said. "Hopefully, that will be reconciled so that we can move forward."
Beyond FY14, NASA has agreed to manage to a flat budget, which should be considered speculative, according to Roe.
She stated that spending/hiring at the center would continue to "slow down" as it has in FY13. That includes an Agency-wide attrition model that hires back one civil servant for every two who retire or leave the Center. Spending will be reduced for reproduction and printing, travel, service contracting and supplies and materials.
"Despite tough times, we have a lot to provide from a value standpoint with this budget," Roe said. "What you will see evident in the President’s budget is that Langley's strategies are paying off."
The proposed FY14 rollout revealed that aeronautics would be increased by nine percent compared to FY12, primarily due to the Advanced Composites Initiative, which was generated at NASA Langley. Through a public-private partnership, this initiative would reduce the time frame – from development to delivery – of advanced composites.
The proposed budget would also allow for growth in global aircraft operations, efficient commercial transports, transitioning to low-carbon propulsion, real-time system-wide safety assurance, and integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the National Airspace System.
The budget for hypersonic research will be reduced, as well as for NASA's Rotary Wing Project. The Rotary Wing Project will eventually be consolidated elsewhere in NASA, according to Roe.
The proposed budget for Earth science shows a 40 percent increase from FY12, which includes delivering SAGE III to the International Space Station, operating five on-orbit instruments and increasing the Earth System Science Pathfinder Missions for CYGNSS (Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System) and TEMPO (Tropospheric Emission Monitoring Pollution). The proposed budget enables delivery of instruments to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including the launch of CERES FM6 and follow ons in support of the Joint Agency Satellite Program. Work will continue on DISCOVER-AQ (Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality), and CLARREO (Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory). The center will also continue to lead the Earth System Science Pathfinder Program Office (ESSPO).
The proposed budget for exploration, which combines exploration and space operations, would result in a 15 percent decrease for FY14. However, it includes continuing NASA's MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) with the EFT-1 (Exploration Flight Test-1) in 2014, and development of NASA’s Space Launch System and other advanced explorations systems. It also includes the Human Research Program and the Human Exploration Architecture Studies. The center will continue to be involved with partners for commercial spaceflight.
"We want to embrace our partnerships with the U.S. commercial space industry to enable safe, reliable and cost effective access to low Earth orbit for crew and cargo, and to reduce American reliance on foreign services," Roe said.
The current proposed budget for exploration does not reflect the new asteroid mission, which is still evolving.
Space Technology received the largest increase, 63 percent, from FY12 to FY14. This budget includes increased funding for technology demonstration on future projects, Game Changing Development and future awards for SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer). Funded technologies with the proposed budget include HIAD (Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator), lightweight structures and advanced radiation protection.
Roe also noted that with the proposed budget, multiple projects could use the center's technical expertise to advance nanotechnology, human robotics systems, manufacturing, composite cryotank, SWORD (Soldier Warfighter Operationally Responsive Deployer) to Space, and Low-Density Supersonic Decelerators.
In FY13, MISSE-X (Materials International Space Station Experiment) was reformulated and HEART (High Energy Atmospheric Reentry Test) was delayed. It has not yet been determined if these programs will continue to be impacted in FY14.
The Cross-Agency budget shows a four percent decrease from FY12, while Construction of Facilities (CoF) & Environmental Compliance and Restoration (ECR) would operate at a 10 percent decrease. Still, revitalization efforts will press on as planned with renovating building 1194 into a mixed-used facility with a consolidated data center and high-density office space, along with renovating building 1230 into a Critical-Avionics Systems Facility. NASA Langley will also begin the first phase of a center-wide electrical distribution system upgrade. The center will continue construction of the Integrated Engineering Services Building (IESB) and construction of the Materials Safety Lab will begin in FY15.
Roe expects that the reductions could be accommodated through administrative savings and other efficiency initiatives.
"We are reducing our footprint while enhancing our capabilities," Roe said.
A proposed 75 percent decrease from FY12 could signify many changes for NASA's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education efforts. The President’s proposed STEM Consolidation Initiative will consolidate 220 STEM programs that currently exist in 13 government agencies. As Roe explained, NASA will "broaden its reach" by working with the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.
NASA will continue to invest in the Space Grant, ESPCoR (Experimental Project to Stimulate Competitive Research), MUREP (Minority University Research and Education Program) and GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) programs.
"We are fully supporting and helping with this more efficient provision to consolidate," Roe said.
The proposed Agency budget provides $105 million to support identification and general mitigation strategies for asteroids, as well as to initiate planning and early development of the asteroid mission to enable human rendezvous with an asteroid before 2025.
Though center roles have not been assigned for NASA’s asteroid mission, some of Langley’s researchers are actively helping with asteroid identification and concept studies. Roe sees plenty of opportunity for Langley to be involved through efforts such as capture systems, materials, solar electric propulsion, systems architecture and studies, radiation sampling and commercial mining.
"We all know that it's a start — president proposes, Congress disposes. So, now it will certainly be in Congress' hands to take a look," Roe said. "We also understand the fiscal realities of where we are. There's a number of things going to happen over the next year with this budget."
By: Denise Lineberry
The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman