Proposed full-year CR would almost fully fund NASA

As Space News and the Orlando Sentinel report, the draft of a full-year continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for FY2011 would fund NASA at close to the level in the authorization act. The draft CR would appropriate $18.91 billion to NASA for 2011, up from the $18.72 billion in FY2010 and $90 million less than the $19.0 billion overall budget that was in both the administration original budget proposal and in the authorization act. A few highlights: The proposed CR would fund heavy-lift development to the tune of $1.8 billion, $200 million above authorized levels, with specific direction that the proposed HLV lift "not less than 130 tons", rather than the 70-100 tons initial capability in the authorization bill. The Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (aka Orion) would get $1.2 billion, $100 million above authorized levels. The bill includes $1.8 billion for the shuttle program and $825 million for "additional" shuttle costs. Although it does not explicitly state those extra funds would go to an additional shuttle mission, the implication, at least among supporters for such a mission, is that the money could be used for that, but it could also be directed to other infrastructure costs. There is $300 million for the COTS program; NASA officials said this week that any additional funding for COTS would be used for additional tests to reduce program risks. Commercial crew development would get $250 million. One big loser is the "21st century spaceport initiative" at KSC, with a cut of more than $200 million from its original request of $429 million. That program already appeared targeted for reductions had NASA been funded at FY2010 levels for 2011, according to testimony at a Senate hearing last week by NASA CFO Beth Robinson. The CR would also lift language in the FY10 appropriations bill that prevents NASA from canceling Constellation programs. According to Space News, the House could act on the proposed CR as soon as today, while the Senate is drafting its own omnibus spending bill to be introduced next week. NASA and the rest of the federal government are operating under a CR that runs through December 18.

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