Le 17 mai 2018, la Commission des appropriations de la Chambre a approuvé son projet de budget pour la NASA pour l’année fiscale 2019, qui reprend les conclusions de la sous-commission Commerce, Justice, Science avec davantage de détails.
Le budget global envisagé par la Commission des appropriations de la Chambre est de 21 545,74 M$, ce qui représente une augmentation de 809,60 M$ par rapport au budget alloué pour l’année fiscale 2018 (1 654 M$ de plus que la requête budgétaire présidentielle).
Quelques points à relever
Le Représentant Dutch Ruppersberger (Démocrate, Maryland) a présenté, puis retiré un amendement relatif au financement de l’instrument PACE (161 M$, lancement en 2022). La question du financement de cet instrument, pas plus que des autres instruments que l’Administration Trump avait indiqué vouloir supprimer (CLARREO-Pathfinder, OCO-3 et instruments d’observation de la Terre initialement prévus sur DSCOVR) n’est pas abordée dans la proposition de budget adoptée. John Culberson (républician, Texas, président de la sous-commission Commerce, Justice, Science a précisé qu’il prendrait langue avec Dutch Ruppersberger pour étudier les possibilités de financement de cet instrument. A noter également que l’administrateur de la NASA a annoncé par ailleurs le lancement d’OCO-3 en janvier prochain.
A l’issue de la réunion de la Commission des appropriations de la Chambre, l’administrateur de la NASA Jim Bridenstine, s’est déclaré assuré à « à 90 % » de la poursuite de WFIRST.
Détail de la proposition budgétaire
|Science||6 680,50 M$|
|– Sciences de la Terre||1 900,00 M$|
|– Sciences planétaires||2 758,50 M$|
|– Astrophysique||1 029,00 M$|
|– JWST||0 304,60 M$|
|– Héliophysique||0 688,50 M$|
|Aéronautique||0 715,00 M$|
|Exploration Research Technology||0 900,00 M$|
|Deep Space Exploration Systems||5 083,90 M$|
|– Orion||1 350,00 M$|
|– SLS Development||2 150,00 M$|
|– Exploration Ground Systems||0 545,00 M$|
|– Advanced Exploration Systems||1 038,90 M$|
|— (Lunar Orbital Platform)||(504,00 M$)|
|LEO and Spaceflight missions||4 624,70 M$|
|Education||0 090,00 M$|
|Safety, Security and Missions Services||2 850,00 M$|
|Construction and Env. Compliance and Restoration||0 562,24 M$|
|Office of Inspector General||0 039,30 M$|
The Committee recommends $21,545,740,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is $809,600,000 above fiscal year 2018. The level of interest in NASA human spaceflight programs and robotic missions continues to grow, and the funding recommendations described below support current robotic and future human exploration programs, and the science, research, technology development, and advanced manufacturing activities necessary to send robotic missions and humans safely beyond low Earth orbit and on to Mars. The funding in this bill also provides NASA with a balanced portfolio to realize advances in safe and efficient air travel, partner with industry, and engage with academia. The Committee is concerned that despite record investments in NASA, significant slips in both human and robotic missions are occurring. These slips are intolerable and must not continue. The Committee expects NASA and its industry and academic partners to redouble efforts to enhance oversight and commitment to success in order to ensure that programs come in on time and within budget.
Moon exploration.—The recommendation fully funds the Moon exploration initiatives requested throughout NASA but includes bill language limiting obligation of these funds until a multi-year plan, with specific goals and funding requirements by fiscal year, is submitted to the Committee. The Committee believes that without firm goals and specific years by which to achieve those goals, programs could drift and languish. The Committee notes how clear mission goals and deadlines can galvanize an agency and a nation behind that mission. The Committee supports additional lunar exploration and partnerships with industry and academia that will ensue as a result of these new missions and believes that efforts focused on the Moon will serve as risk reduction activities toward human exploration of Mars. The Committee believes that human and robotic exploration of Mars and other destinations in our Solar System and beyond must be the goals of NASA—that striving to go farther into space pushes NASA and its academic and industry partners to be bold and aggressive. While the Committee is supportive of renewed focus on the Moon, these programs must not exhaust funding for other science priorities recommended by the National Academies Decadal Survey process.
Long-term planning.—The request includes significant new funding to support NASA’s proposed Moon program. However, notional outyear budgets to implement this new initiative and the wide range of other ongoing and anticipated future decadal missions are unrealistic. The Committee is supportive of efforts focused on the Moon as well as current robotic missions to Europa and Mars; moving forward with a refocused WFIRST; and building a hypersonic research aircraft. These and many other NASA missions and programs inspire the nation and spur the next generation of scientists and explorers. The Committee directs NASA to submit realistic outyear budgets that show the level of investment required in future years to accomplish the variety of NASA missions and refrain from submitting budgets that are not executable in a timely fashion, as they serve only to hinder effective long-term planning which in turn results in higher overall program costs.
Program and project totals.—The Committee’s program and project recommendations for NASA are included in the consolidated funding table below and in narrative direction throughout this report. The Committee reminds NASA that any deviations from the amounts included in the table below are subject to section 505 requirements of this Act. When executing its budget for fiscal year 2019, NASA shall incorporate the funding levels established in both the table and the narrative direction. NASA is reminded that comity has existed between the Congress and the Executive Branch with respect to abiding by language included in this report and in the accompanying bill. The Committee expects NASA to respect this long-standing practice.
The Committee recommends $6,680,600,000 for Science, which is $459,100,000 above fiscal year 2018 and $785,600,000 above the request. Decadal surveys.—The Committee directs that the priorities outlined in the decadal surveys for Earth Science, Planetary Science, Astrophysics, and Heliophysics shall drive NASA mission priorities.
The recommendation includes $1,900,000,000 for Earth Science programs. Within amounts provided is $131,900,000, as requested, for the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar mission.
- Earth Science Decadal.—The Committee supports the release and recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences Earth Science and Applications from Space Decadal Survey report and directs NASA to implement its findings to the extent practicable. As articulated by the report, NASA should seek when appropriate to competitively select future missions that address Designated and Earth System Explorer target observables. The Committee believes an increase in competition will further encourage responsible cost and schedule constraints, develop novel remote sensing technologies, and leverage the talents and expertise of scientists at universities and research institutions.
- Space geodesy and geodynamics.—The recommendation includes up to $5,000,000 within NASA’s Crustal Dynamics Data Information System to collaborate with academic partners to integrate multi-global navigation satellite system observations and make such data available to researchers. NASA is encouraged to partner, as appropriate, with NOAA on these matters.
- Small Satellite Constellation Initiative.—The recommendation includes the requested amount of $25,000,000 for NASA’s Small Satellite Constellation Initiative. The Small Satellite Constellation Initiative is designed to encourage spaceflight solutions for Earth science missions that involve the use of multiple, instrumented small satellites flying in various formations, to achieve the quality and quantity of data required by the research and applications communities. The Committee believes that small satellites can exponentially expand the data available to scientists and researchers at lower costs and in shorter timeframes than traditional, more expensive large satellite programs. Land imaging requirements.—NASA is encouraged to examine its portfolio and seek reimbursement, where appropriate, from Federal partner agencies on future land imaging requirements and examine how commercial partners may support NASA’s future land imaging requirements.
The recommendation includes $2,758,500,000 for Planetary Science. One of the primary recommendations of the National Academies’ 2012 Decadal Survey for Planetary Science was for NASA to achieve a balanced program through a mix of Discovery, New Frontiers, and flagship missions, and an appropriate balance among the many potential targets in the Solar System. The Committee continues to urge NASA, in subsequent budgets, to ensure that it requests sufficient funds to support such a balanced, steady cadence of missions. Further, the Committee expects NASA to request sufficient funds for Research and Analysis to ensure that science data collected by NASA can be fully exploited by scientists and researchers. Planetary protection.—The Committee is aware that planetary protection requirements for each NASA mission and target body are determined based on scientific advice from the Space Studies Board (SSB), National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and on NASA policy, which is guided by international technical standards established by the international Committee on Space Research. In general, the Committee understands that if the target body has the potential to provide clues about life or prebiotic chemical evolution, a spacecraft will be required to meet a high standard of biological and chemical cleanliness and/or some operating restrictions will be imposed. The Committee is aware that the SSB issued an interim report on these matters and looks forward to the publication of the final report. NASA and its academic and industry partners must take all necessary precautions with respect to ensuring planetary protection.
- Planetary Defense.—The recommendation includes $160,000,000 for Planetary Defense activities. NASA shall maintain no less than current funding levels for its use of NSF’s ground-based telescopes to fulfill its planetary protection mission and determine if additional funds are required. The recommendation includes not less than the request for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission. The Committee directs NASA to continue the development of the DART technology demonstration mission toward a June 2021 launch. NASA shall keep the Committee informed of these activities. NASA is urged to conduct research into directed energy as a means of asteroid deflection.
- Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam).—The Committee remains supportive of the NEOCam mission, which follows a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report regarding the use of space-based infrared survey telescopes to discover asteroids that pose a hazard to Earth. The recommendation includes an increase of $10,000,000 above current levels for NEOCam; the Committee understands that NASA is working with its partners to develop a more cost-effective mission focused on NEO search requirements. The Committee anticipates receiving the report requested in the fiscal year 2018 Appropriations Act regarding NEOCam.
- Near-Earth Object Survey Act.—The Committee appreciates that an asteroid strike is a low-probability event, but the consequences of an impact could be enormous, or even catastrophic. The target date for completion of the George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act quickly approaches. NASA’s activities towards meeting these requirements, while impressive, could be further enhanced by an in-space telescope that can detect objects approaching our planet from the direction of the Sun. While such a telescope might provide slightly less scientific data than other proposed projects, the Committee believes the trade-off for the defense of the planet is worthwhile.
- Lunar Discovery and Exploration.—The Committee supports the requested level of $218,000,000 for the Lunar Discovery and Exploration program, including $18,000,000 for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $200,000,000 for the new Lunar Future initiative. The Committee directs that the new Lunar Future initiative follow the lunar science priorities established by decadal surveys and the National Research Council’s Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon and collect data to address the strategic knowledge gaps important for human exploration of the Moon. The Committee anticipates additional reports from the Academies regarding NASA’s plans for lunar science and exploration. The funds provided for moon exploration are intended to support a mix of commercial lunar payload services; science instrument development; small satellite development; and long-duration lunar rover development. These funds will support science payloads and instruments for Lunar lander missions such as those developed in partnership with the private sector as part of NASA’s Lunar CATALYST program. These robotic missions will provide NASA with access to the lunar surface and allow for an affordable procurement of a variety of science and exploration payloads to prepare for future science and crewed Exploration Missions. Public-private partnerships.—The Committee notes that Lunar Future funding is intended to support, in part, public-private partnerships to send exploration and science payloads to the Moon and will serve as an architecture foundation for both lunar surface and lunar orbit operations. The Committee understands that the commercial landers supported by this program will provide the first opportunity since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 to directly investigate the surface of the Moon. As part of this initiative and in with expertise within the Exploration Research and Technology account, NASA shall undertake risk reduction activities in support of large lunar lander technology maturation. Development of these landers is essential for human exploration of the Moon and beyond. The Committee notes that there is a robust private space industry with companies engaging in development of technologies that support NASA in its human and robotic exploration missions. The Committee expects NASA to engage in these public-private partnerships with U.S. commercial space companies to initiate the most expeditious possible development of a lunar lander for both the Moon and extensible applications to Mars missions. This includes development of hardware, propulsion, communications, and software necessary for a lunar landing vehicle with the ability to deliver 1,000 to 10,000 pounds of payload to the lunar surface. To the greatest extent practicable, NASA shall offer existing capabilities and assets at NASA Centers with lander expertise to support these partnerships. As part of the report directed in the administrative provisions of this bill, NASA shall provide an outline of missions and their intended launch cadence. NASA is encouraged to ensure that industry partners under the Lunar Future program exhibit inkind or other cost share investments so the program can meet its intended goals on time and within budget.
- Discovery.—The recommendation includes $381,200,000, as requested, for the Discovery program. This program supports innovative, relatively low-cost, competitively selected Planetary Science missions. Funding provided supports the Lucy and Psyche missions, as requested. NASA shall keep the Committee informed of these programs. Given continued robust funding provided by the Committee for the Discovery program, NASA shall make every effort to follow the cadence recommended in the Decadal Survey.
- New Frontiers.—The recommendation includes $130,200,000 for New Frontiers, as requested. New Frontiers missions explore the Solar System with frequent, medium-class spacecraft missions. The program includes three missions in operations:
- New Horizons, Juno, and OSIRIS–Rex. Given continued robust funding provided by the Committee for New Frontiers, NASA shall make every effort to follow the cadence recommended in the Decadal Survey.
- Juno.—The recommendation includes no less than $25,000,000, as requested, for Juno, a mission to Jupiter launched in 2011 to help NASA understand the formation of planets and the origins of the Solar System. The Committee is aware that the original Juno flight plan has been modified and that additional operational funds may be required in future years.
- Mars Exploration.—The Committee remains supportive of NASA’s ongoing Mars missions that continue to gather data about our nearest neighbor, which may have once supported microbial life. These missions and the Mars 2020 mission will provide NASA with valuable data about future landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover and eventually American astronauts. The recommendation includes $650,000,000 to support a Mars 2020 mission that meets scientific objectives for the most recent Planetary Science decadal survey, including the Mars sample return mission. Funding for the Mars helicopter technology demonstration is included within the Planetary Technology program described below. NASA shall provide quarterly briefings on all aspects of the Mars program. Finally, NASA shall provide a report within 180 days regarding the status and reliability of Mars data relay capability and how any potential future architecture upgrades are being incorporated into the overall Mars 2020 and sample return missions.
- Outer Planets and Ocean Worlds.—The primary goal of the Ocean Worlds Exploration Program is to discover extant life on another planet using a mix of Discovery, New Frontiers and flagship or strategic missions. The recommendation includes $760,900,000 for Outer Planets and Ocean Worlds, of which $545,000,000 is for the Jupiter Europa Clipper mission and $195,000,000 is for the Europa Lander mission to fulfill the requirements of recent Planetary Science decadal surveys. To support progress on these programs, NASA shall ensure that future funding requests are consistent with achieving a Europa Clipper launch no later than 2022 and a Europa Lander launch no later than 2024. The Committee appreciates that NASA has published a Research Announcement for Draft Instruments Concepts for Europa Exploration. NASA shall keep the Committee informed of the status of the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for the Lander to ensure progress toward a 2024 launch. The Committee expects that this AO shall be published during fiscal year 2019. While the Committee remains very supportive of the Europa mission, the Committee expects this program to meet development milestones on time and within budget. Future Europa funding requirements.—The Committee includes specific bill language regarding the Europa missions, directing that NASA launch the Europa Clipper mission in 2022 and the Europa Lander mission in 2024. Further, the Committee includes language directing NASA to include five year budget profiles necessary to achieve these goals. The Committee clarifies that this information shall include separate amounts for the yearly funding requirements for the Clipper mission to ensure it launches in 2022 and a separate funding amount required for the Lander mission to launch in 2024. These amounts shall also include yearly vehicle launch costs for each mission. As noted elsewhere in this report, NASA shall request budgets sufficient to ensure that the Europa missions launch according to the years established by law.
- Technology.—The recommendation includes $210,200,000 for Technology. Within these amounts, no less than $35,000,000 is for icy satellites surface technology and test-bed activities and no less than $10,000,000 is for the Mars helicopter technology demonstration mission that will be flown on the Mars 2020 mission. The recommendation also includes no less than $81,800,000, as requested, for NASA to continue its collaboration with the Department of Energy to produce plutonium-238 domestically for use as a source of energy in deep space missions. Finally, the recommendation includes $3,000,000 for NASA to conduct a joint effort with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and its exploration research vessels and existing tele-presence capabilities as well as new mobile systems, through the SUBSEA program, to examine potential parallels between possible systems that might support life in outer space to ones known to exist on Earth.
- Impact craters.—Impact craters in the U.S. that are well preserved and accessible provide researchers and educators with the opportunity to expand our understanding of the Earth’s and the Solar System’s history and show students research in action as a part of their STEM education. NASA is encouraged to make funds available for external competitive funding to conduct further scientific investigation of well-preserved and easily accessible impact craters, and provide education and outreach on Earth’s erosion processes and the scientific method of research.
The recommendation includes $1,029,000,000 for Astrophysics. The recommendation includes $83,400,000, as requested, for Astrophysics Research and Analysis. The Committee recognizes that exciting scientific discoveries often come from data evaluated after a mission’s initial surveys are complete. This funding enables maximum scientific value to be derived from these missions and leverages existing data sets that inspire new discoveries.
- Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).—The recommendation includes $85,200,000 for SOFIA. SOFIA was first recommended in the 1991 Decadal Survey, The Decade of Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The New Worlds, New Horizons 2010 Decadal Survey noted that with SOFIA, ‘‘we have the opportunity to study fundamentals of chemistry under conditions we cannot create here on Earth.’’ Following that, the New Worlds, New Horizons: A Midterm Assessment noted that, ‘‘. . . (SOFIA) reached full operational capacity in February 2014 and provides unique capabilities for mid-to-far infrared spectroscopy.’’ Pursuant to 51 U.S.C. 30504, NASA conducts ‘‘triennial reviews’’ of ‘‘missions that exceed their planned missions’ lifetime.’’ The Committee is concerned with NASA’s proposed inclusion of SOFIA in the 2019 Senior Review, given it began its prime mission in 2014 and has 15 years of prime mission lifetime remaining. Accordingly, the Committee directs NASA to only undertake a Senior Review of SOFIA at the time SOFIA completes its planned mission lifetime. For the purposes of this section, announcing, scheduling, or undertaking a Senior Review is deemed preparation for shutdown.
- Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).—The recommendation includes $150,000,000 for WFIRST, which was included as the first priority in the 2010 Astrophysics Decadal Survey. The Committee is concerned about the growing cost of the prime mission as noted by a recent independent examination. To reduce mission costs and ensure that overlap with James Webb Space Telescope is maximized, NASA should implement the most efficient development program for the telescope and its instruments. Further, to enhance the cost effectiveness of science operations, NASA shall leverage more extensively the experience acquired on Hubble, Spitzer, and Wise. The recommended amount shall include continued development of the chronograph as a technology demonstration mission. Further, within amounts provided for WFIRST, $20,000,000 is for continued development of the Starshade technology demonstration effort. The Committee understands that WFIRST is already ‘‘Starshade-ready’’ within the $3,200,000,000 cost cap. The Starshade, in tandem with WFIRST, will enable NASA to identify the nearest Earth-like planet around the nearest star, and thereby identify a target or multiple targets for the interstellar mission NASA has been developing. Astrophysics observatories.—The Committee commends NASA for providing the science community with observations of astrophysical objects conducted simultaneously over a broad range of wavelengths. The Committee looks forward to receiving the report directed in the fiscal year 2018 appropriations Act that summarizes NASA’s plans for maintaining U.S. leadership in obtaining astrophysical observations in the x-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths following the completion of the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope missions.
- Technosignatures.—The recommendation includes $10,000,000 for NASA to partner with the private sector and philanthropic organizations, to the maximum extent practicable, to search for technosignatures, such as radio transmissions, in order to meet the NASA objective to search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe.
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
The recommendation includes $304,600,000 for JWST, which is the same as the request and $229,100,000 below fiscal year 2018. The Committee notes that NASA notified the Committee about an anticipated schedule breach and potential cost breach for the JWST program. Given continued problems with JWST, the Committee retains a separate line item for this program to ensure visibility. The Committee is very concerned about the issues that are emerging at this late stage of JWST development and expects NASA to report to the Committee on a regular basis regarding efforts to ensure that this launch does not slip further. The Committee expects NASA to increase its level of oversight and expects private sector partners to be diligent in ensuring that all proper procedures are followed. The Committee reminds NASA that this program was rebaselined in 2011 and provided with a robust $8,000,000,000 development cost cap that acknowledged how ambitious and difficult JWST is as a mission. These slips in the launch schedule are an enormous disappointment to the Committee. The Committee understands that NASA has commissioned an independent review of JWST and expects to receive the results of this review as soon as possible.
The recommendation includes $688,500,000 for Heliophysics. This amount includes $26,000,000 to continue science operations and data archiving for the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission.
Education and Public Outreach (EPO)
The recommendation includes $44,000,000 for Science Mission Directorate (SMD)-wide EPO activities. NASA shall, in the fiscal year 2019 spending plan, allocate these funds proportionally among the SMD divisions, resulting in a dedicated budget line for each division’s EPO activities.
The recommendation includes $715,000,000 for Aeronautics. This amount, which is $30,000,000 above fiscal year 2018 and $81,100,000 above the request, reflects that an efficient and safe transportation system is fundamental to the U.S. economy.
- Low Boom Flight Demonstrator.—Within amounts provided for Aeronautics, $88,300,000 is included, as requested, to continue development of the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator. NASA shall request sufficient funds in subsequent budgets to build and fly the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator as proposed and ensure that related infrastructure facilities are sufficient to support this demonstration project. Finally, NASA shall ensure that research resulting from the Flight Demonstrator is shared with the private sector for use in commercial aviation applications.
- Hypersonic research.—Within amounts provided, no less than $60,000,000 is for NASA’s ongoing hypersonic research activities. The Committee is pleased to see NASA’s renewed commitment to hypersonics, which has tremendous potential to revolutionize exploration. NASA is encouraged to support extramural fundamental research to solve remaining challenges such as propulsion, advanced materials, thermal management, and entry, descent, and landing. Universities have unique experimental and computational research capabilities to address these challenges and NASA should take full advantage of its partnership mechanisms to enable this research.
- Air Mobility and Automation Initiative.—The Committee supports NASA research and development efforts designed to further new innovations in propulsion, simplify vehicle operations, increase automation, and integrate these operations into controlled airspace. The Committee believes these technologies can address critical mobility challenges. The Committee expects NASA to develop a roadmap with industry stakeholders and coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to expedite technology introduction and maximize improvements in safety and affordability as well as facilitate environmental benefits like noise and emissions reduction. In the roadmap, NASA should consider leveraging other internal directorates’ research efforts where applicable, evaluate whether test sites would enable valuable operational experience with increasingly automated manned and self-operated aircraft, leverage industry partnerships to accelerate the progress of these critical mobility initiatives, and consider the capabilities of NASA test facilities for supporting this and other critical activities. This roadmap shall be submitted to the Committee by March 2019.
- Electric air flight.—The Committee encourages and supports strengthening collaborations between NASA and the Department of Energy national laboratories to overcome energy storage challenges for novel modes of mobility like electric air flight. While NASA has unprecedented aeronautics expertise, the Department of Energy national laboratories are leading efforts to develop next generation battery technologies for vehicle applications and enhancing modeling and simulation capabilities with advances in deep learning and machine learning. Therefore, the Committee encourages increased cooperation between NASA and the Department of Energy national laboratories to overcome technological barriers in demonstrating the capability of electrified aircraft, such as higher energy density batteries, development of new, lower-cost materials, and the establishment of testing methods and protocols.
- Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) safety.—The recommendation includes no less than the requested amount for the Airspace Operations and Safety Program and directs NASA to help ensure the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace system as expeditiously as possible. NASA shall brief the Committee within 120 days of enactment regarding the UAS Traffic Management Pilot.
- Air traffic safety.—NASA is encouraged to coordinate with the FAA and leverage the six test ranges established under section 332 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (Public Law 112–95) to research solutions for sense and avoid, command and control, ground control station standards and human factors, airworthiness, lost link procedures, and interoperability within the air traffic control system.
EXPLORATION RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY
The Committee recommends $900,000,000 for Exploration Research and Technology. This amount fully funds the request except for the Human Research Program, which remains in the Deep Space Exploration Systems account. The Committee recognizes and supports that the presently independent status and separation from specific missions enables this account to support the development of a wide array of various technologies across NASA’s portfolio. This diverse portfolio contains technology development activities that have broad applications beyond human exploration and that help to meet the agency’s science objectives, establish new commercial and academic partnerships, and stimulate the growth of the nation’s technology sector.
- Interstellar roadmap.—The Committee appreciates that NASA has submitted the propulsion technology assessment to enable an interstellar mission to identify the nearest Earth-like planet that shows signs of extant life. The Committee notes that the challenges of interstellar travel are immense and will require monumental advancements in many technology areas. The roadmap proposed by NASA begins with a series of workshops to assess candidate technologies and establish specific technology development milestones. Within amounts provided, NASA shall initiate these workshops immediately and provide a report on their proceedings no later than 180 days following enactment of this Act. NASA must stay true to its heritage by being bold and pushing the limits of science, engineering, and technology. The Committee looks forward to working with NASA to ensure the roadmap is implemented. As noted elsewhere, NASA shall ensure that it requests sufficient funds in future budgets to develop and implement this mission.
- Nuclear thermal propulsion technology.—Within amounts provided, $150,000,000 is for continued development and demonstration of a nuclear thermal propulsion system. Within 180 days of the enactment of this Act, NASA shall submit a multi-year plan that enables a nuclear thermal propulsion demonstration by no later than 2024 and describes future missions and propulsion and power systems enabled by this capability. NASA shall take into consideration the use of nuclear thermal propulsion as it drafts the multiyear exploration roadmap directed in this bill. Further, of the funds provided for nuclear thermal propulsion, not less than $10,000,000 is for development of digital twin technology to support the cost effective development, manufacturing and operation of nuclear thermal propulsion technologies.
- Solar electric propulsion.—The recommendation includes $52,000,000 to continue work on solar electric propulsion activities. According to NASA, high-powered solar electric propulsion can efficiently propel more ambitious robotic science and human exploration missions beyond the Earth and into deep space. Furthermore, solar electric propulsion will enable more efficient orbit transfer of spacecraft and accommodate the increasing power demands for government and commercial satellites.
- Small launch technology platform.—The recommendation includes no less than $20,000,000, as requested, for the Flight Opportunities Program to enable NASA to continue to partner with commercial industry to advance technologies for sub-orbital and orbital launch vehicles for small payloads, with the aim to increase affordability of those technologies and to allow for more frequent access to relevant launch environments, including low-Earth orbit. This funding fills a research gap by offering several minutes of microgravity research at a relatively low price.
- Additive manufacturing.—The recommendation includes $35,000,000 to support NASA’s additive manufacturing efforts focused on enhancing space vehicle design and reducing overall production costs, engineering advanced propulsion processes and subscale work including development of a digital twin directly applicable to upper stage engine production, RS–25 engine affordability and sustainability, as well as liquid boosters for the 130 metric ton Space Launch System (SLS).
- RESTORE–L.—Given the substantial cost to design, develop, and launch satellites and continued reliance on the data they gather, NASA shall ensure that all future satellites, including those in formulation, should be maneuverable, re-fuelable and otherwise serviceable. The Committee strongly supports satellite servicing and expects NASA to continue developing these capabilities in collaboration with its public and private sector and academic partners. The Committee recommends $130,000,000 for the RESTORE–L program to support a flight demonstration by no later than 2021. NASA shall provide a schedule and yearly funding requirements to execute the flight demonstration of RESTORE–L not later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act.
- Orbital debris.—The Committee notes the successful launch in December 2017 of the Space Debris Sensor to the International Space Station. Consistent with this mission, NASA is encouraged to take steps to develop or acquire technologies that will enable the Administration to remove orbital debris and to provide a report on these matters within 180 days of enactment of this Act.
- Regional economic development.—The recommendation includes $7,500,000 for NASA’s regional economic development program which focuses on partnerships with State and regional economic development organizations as they expand space-related commercial opportunities designed to address NASA mission needs.
- Small satellites.—The recommendation includes $25,000,000 to enable NASA to work with its private sector and academic partners to address the technical challenges associated with designing, fabricating, and testing capable satellites and constellations of satellites that meet certain size, weight, and power requirements. Also included is up to $2,000,000 to address technical challenges associated with high speed crosslink and downlink communications for low Earth orbit small satellite constellations.
DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION SYSTEMS
The Committee recommends $5,083,900,000 for Deep Space Exploration Systems, which is $293,900,000 above fiscal year 2018 and $525,100,000 above the request. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) shall continue its review of NASA’s human exploration programs, specifically the SLS program, the Orion program, and Exploration Ground Systems, to include the mobile launch platforms, and including integration and software development issues that cut across these programs. GAO shall provide periodic updates to the Committee. In addition, the Committee expects GAO to begin evaluating NASA’s proposed lunar-focused programs—including the Lunar Orbital Platform—as part of its semiannual assessment of NASA major projects when a lunar-focused project is expected to have an estimated life-cycle cost over $250 million. Separately, GAO shall also evaluate all of the new lunar focused programs in-depth as appropriate—similar to how GAO has reviewed the James Webb Space Telescope and Human Space Exploration programs—to ensure that they are following best practices in terms of program management, defined missions and goals, and executable and affordable budgets. GAO and the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) should coordinate their in-depth reviews of the lunar programs to ensure there is an ongoing review by either the GAO or IG of the exploration, planetary, and space operations lunar programs.
- Human spaceflight safety.—The Committee reiterates that nothing in this report or accompanying Act shall be construed as directing NASA to proceed with any human spaceflight unless or until NASA has concluded that the mission meets safety requirements.
- Orion.—The recommendation includes $1,350,000,000, which is $186,500,000 above the request, for Orion. GAO, in its May 2017 assessment, noted the late delivery of the European Service Module (ESM). NASA shall keep the Committee informed of the status of activities related to Orion and the ESM and ongoing activities related to integration of Orion with SLS and associated ground infrastructure.
- Space Launch System.—The recommendation includes $2,150,000,000, which is $71,900,000 above the request, for SLS, and includes not less than $300,000,000 for continued work on the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS). The Committee is aware that Critical Design Review for the EUS is scheduled to occur in summer 2018. NASA shall keep the Committee informed of the status of these efforts. The Committee notes that it is awaiting a comprehensive report on funds necessary to complete EUS and to build subsequent EUSs. Finally, NASA shall continue submitting quarterly reports on SLS spending by major program element, as first required in the statement accompanying Public Law 112–55.
- Exploration Ground Systems (EGS).—The recommendation includes $545,000,000, which is $116,800,000 above the request, for EGS. This funding level ensures that exploration ground systems, including hardware and software, are keeping pace with development of SLS and the Orion crew capsule. The fiscal year 2018 Appropriations Act included $350,000,000 to begin procuring a second mobile launch platform (MLP) and associated infrastructure to launch Exploration Mission-2 earlier than currently envisioned. NASA shall expeditiously implement processes necessary to construct the second MLP so it is completed by 2022. A second mobile launch platform dramatically changes the mission profile for NASA and will allow NASA to launch human and robotic missions at a cadence to ensure the Lunar Orbital Platform is built more quickly and to ensure that the Europa Clipper and Lander missions are not delayed by the overall launch cadence profile. The Committee understands that NASA is still evaluating the impacts to the program given the addition of funding for a second mobile launch platform. NASA shall report to the Committee within 90 days of enactment of this Act regarding the optimal cadence of missions. Further, NASA shall incorporate this planning in the long-term planning document directed in this bill.
- Advanced Exploration Systems.—The recommendation includes $1,038,900,000 for Advanced Exploration Systems. Within these amounts, $504,200,000 is for the Lunar Orbital Platform. The Committee understands that the Lunar Orbital Platform, to be assembled in orbit around the Moon, will be used as a staging point for exploration, science, commercial and international partner missions to the lunar surface and to destinations in deep space. This funding in part will support a launch, no later than 2022, of a power and propulsion element. Within this amount is $176,200,000, as requested, for habitation, airlock for docking vehicles, and logistics capabilities associated with supporting the Platform. As noted elsewhere in this report, while the Committee is supportive of these efforts, NASA shall submit a long-term plan, with yearly milestones and required budgets, to ensure that the program is executable with clear goals to gauge progress and improve adherence to budgets. The Committee expects NASA to examine how the Commercial Crew and Commercial Cargo programs can support the Platform.
- Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities.—The recommendation includes $116,500,000, as requested, for the Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities programs included as part of the Lunar Exploration Campaign. This funding will support lander risk reduction activities in partnership with industry, and include robotic demonstration missions. As noted earlier, the Committee remains supportive of NASA’s ongoing Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative with the private sector to develop robotic lunar landers that can be integrated with U.S. commercial launch capabilities to deliver payloads to the lunar surface.
- Human Research Program.—The recommendation includes $150,000,000 in this account for the Human Research Program. The Committee believes that the current synergies in this account among the Orion crew capsule, SLS, associated ground programs and the Human Research Program should be sustained. The Committee believes that moving human research to another directorate at this point may introduce unnecessary risk. NASA shall continue research on human health risks associated with Mars surface operations. The Committee reiterates its support of NASA’s collaboration with academia to research ways to ameliorate the impacts of space travel on humans. The Committee also directs increased efforts to advance medical technologies on the International Space Station (ISS) which can be used to improve medical care on Earth.
LEO AND SPACEFLIGHT OPERATIONS
The Committee recommends $4,624,700,000 for LEO and Spaceflight Operations.
- International Space Station (ISS).—The Committee reiterates that the International Space Station shall remain operational as long as it remains safe and operable. The Committee is supportive of the Administration’s efforts to find partners to pay for the future costs of the ISS. NASA’s March 2018 International Space Station Transition Report stated that, ‘‘From a structural integrity analysis standpoint, the ISS platform is expected to have significant structural life well beyond 2028 (based on the current assessment period). Many of the ISS modules, particularly the modules launched in the later years of ISS assembly, are likely to have structural life well into the 2030s . . .’’ As NASA embarks on an ambitious plan to once again send robotic and human exploration missions to the Moon, it is crucial that NASA and its private sector partners continue to have the ability to conduct experiments in a microgravity environment such as that provided by the ISS. The Committee continues to encourage NASA to implement cost savings measures to reduce NASA’s investment in the ISS operations budget while maximizing research opportunities. In particular, the Committee is concerned that NASA is not maximizing human research opportunities on the ISS that will contribute to advances for improved human health on Earth and during deep space exploration missions.
- Commercial LEO Development.—The recommendation includes $150,000,000, as requested, for Commercial LEO Development. This funding will establish the foundation for future commercial options in LEO to meet NASA’s research and technology development requirements beyond the ISS. The Committee is supportive of enhancing collaboration with the private sector, including efforts to add additional modules to the ISS and support new technologies such as in-space manufacturing. As noted elsewhere, funding obligations for the Commercial LEO Development program are limited until NASA submits a multi-year, detailed plan for these activities.
- Commercial Crew.—According to GAO’s January 2018 report, NASA COMMERCIAL CREW PROGRAM Continued Delays Pose Risks for Uninterrupted Access to the International Space Station, while the contractors have made progress developing their crew transportation systems, both programs continue to experience schedule delays. NASA is examining a range of options to ensure uninterrupted U.S. access to the ISS, including extending missions. The Committee remains concerned about the overall status of each of the programs and the number of top risks that remain as outlined by GAO, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, and the NASA Advisory Council-Human Exploration and Operations committee. NASA shall notify the Committee immediately if either of the providers is unlikely to meet uncrewed and crewed flights as currently planned in 2018 and 2019, respectively. NASA shall continue submitting quarterly reports on the status of the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability and Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts.
- Space and Flight Support.—The recommendation includes no less than the fiscal year 2018 levels to modernize and upgrade both the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch and range complexes. The Committee supports maintaining launch sites serving the ISS at both the WFF and KSC to ensure uninterrupted domestic cargo access to the ISS.
- Rocket Propulsion Test activities.—The recommendation includes $60,000,000 to develop and improve test facilities and test stands for new engine systems at all NASA test facilities. The Committee is concerned that NASA funding requests for this program have not kept pace with NASA’s launch requirements and expects NASA to ensure that future budget requests are scaled appropriately across the exploration enterprise.
- Venture Class missions.—The recommendation supports the re- quested amount of $86,600,000 for NASA’s Launch Services Program. The recommendation includes $25,000,000 for NASA, through the appropriate program office, to continue its work with the private sector on launch vehicles for smaller payloads to low Earth orbit to enable NASA to accomplish its mission in a more cost-effective manner with frequent and responsive access to space for small satellites. These next-generation launch capabilities will advance America’s leadership in space and provide new and flexible capabilities for the U.S. government. NASA is encouraged to pursue these commercial services whenever they can meet NASA’s goals.
- International collaboration.—The Committee supports joint projects between NASA and the Israel Space Agency and directs a report from NASA within 180 days of enactment of this Act detailing current and planned projects between the two agencies.
The Committee recommends $90,000,000 for Education, which is $10,000,000 below fiscal year 2018 and $90,000,000 above the request. The Committee expects NASA to continue implementing the programs below and to ensure that overhead costs to support these programs do not exceed five percent.
- National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program.—The recommendation includes $40,000,000 for the Space Grant program. This amount shall be allocated to State consortia for competitively awarded grants in support of local, regional, and national STEM needs.
- Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).—The recommendation includes $18,000,000 for EPSCoR.
- Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).— The recommendation includes $32,000,000 for MUREP.
SAFETY, SECURITY AND MISSION SERVICES
The Committee recommends $2,850,000,000 for Safety, Security and Mission Services, which is $23,100,000 above fiscal year 2018 and $100,300,000 above the request.
- University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs).—The Committee looks forward to receiving a report from NASA regarding current UARC activities and how NASA may look to establish additional such partnerships.
- Security.—NASA shall continue to submit reports on the agency’s progress in implementing the corrective actions recommended by the National Academy of Public Administration, the GAO, NASA IG and the NASA ASAP with respect to security compliance protocols and foreign national access management.
- Bilateral activities.—The recommendation maintains bill language directing that NASA, in consultation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall confirm or otherwise certify that NASA bilateral activities with China are in compliance with section 528 of this bill.
- Cloud computing.—NASA shall provide a report within 120 days of enactment describing the use of cloud computing services, to include examples of how cloud computing has enhanced services; an examination of the benefits of utilizing hybrid cloud technologies to maximize functionality and analysis of data in disconnected, deep space environments; and any plans for expanding cloud computing. This report shall also examine any security impacts of transitioning to cloud computing, any factors delaying or inhibiting the expansion of cloud computing usage, and the cost savings achieved in the past three fiscal years through the use of commercial cloud computing services.
- Virtual Institute for Aerospace Systems Engineering.—The Committee is concerned about the extent to which new technology is utilized in NASA programs and the need for more accurate predictions of the cost and schedules necessary to mature technologies to a point sufficient for inclusion in mission system architectures. The Committee also sees a need to reduce uncertainty associated with new technology infusion through early identification of the systems integration implications of new technologies within the context of mission system architectures. For these reasons the Committee encourages NASA to establish a ‘‘virtual institute’’ focused on advancing systems engineering. This institute would include government, academic, and industry partners with the goal of improving safety, mission success and affordability, and preparing the next generation of aerospace systems engineers.
- GAO assessments of large-scale projects.—NASA shall continue to cooperate fully and provide timely information to the GAO so that it may fulfill its congressional mandate to report on the status of large-scale projects at NASA. Such information includes, but is not limited to, copies of preliminary cost estimates; access to online agency applications, databases, and web portals; and access to contractor and agency personnel. These assessments shall include any technology demonstration activities or communications and tracking services and related infrastructure refreshment activities with life cycle costs that exceed $250,000,000.
- Cost breach reporting.—NASA shall submit to the Committee any notifications and reports on cost overruns required by section 103 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, Public Law 109–155.
- Working Capital Fund (WCF) reporting.—NASA shall continue to submit quarterly reports to the Committee on the expenditures and unobligated balances of NASA’s WCF.
- Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V).—The recommendation includes no less than the fiscal year 2018 operating level for the IV&V program. If necessary, NASA shall fund additional IV&V activities from within the mission directorates that make use of IV&V services.
- Quality assurance.—The Committee renews its direction to NASA regarding quality control following a 2017 NASA IG audit, NASA’s Parts Quality Control Process, which found that NASA Centers generally manage their parts quality and supplier assessment data unilaterally rather than collaborating through a comprehensive, integrated, Agency-wide parts and supplier information system. The Committee continues to encourage NASA to examine the potential benefits of a quality management policy, to include requiring contractors and suppliers to adopt electronic quality management platforms.
CONSTRUCTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE AND RESTORATION
The Committee recommends $562,240,000 for Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration, which is the same as fiscal year 2018 and $174,040,000 above request. This robust level of funding will enable NASA to modernize critical assets, improve mission assurance, reduce mission risk, and maintain mission essential capabilities.
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
The Committee recommends $39,300,000 for the Office of Inspector General, which is the same as the request.
ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS (INCLUDING TRANSFERS OF FUNDS)
The Committee has included the following administrative provisions for NASA: The bill includes a provision that makes funds for any announced prize available without fiscal year limitation until the prize is claimed or the offer is withdrawn. The bill includes a provision that establishes terms and conditions for the transfer of funds. The bill includes a provision that requires NASA to submit its agency spending plan at the activity level and subjects both the spending plan and specified changes to that plan to reprogramming procedures under section 505 of this Act. The bill includes a new provision that allows the transfer of balances from the ‘‘Space Technology’’ account to the ‘‘Exploration Research and Technology’’ account; from the ‘‘Exploration’’ account to the ‘‘Deep Space Exploration Systems’’ account; and from the ‘‘Space Operations’’ account to the ‘‘Low-Earth Orbit and Spaceflight Operations’’ account. The bill includes a new general provision limiting obligation of certain funds until certain materials are provided to the Committee.