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‘NASA increasing Earth science research budget’

Washington DC, US: Euroconsult along with the consulting firm Omnis announced the findings of a study foreseeing a significant shift in NASA spending toward Earth science and R and D programmes and away from legacy spaceflight activities.
According to the report “NASA Spending Outlook: Trends to 2016,” NASA’s budget, which will remain flat at around USD 18.7 billion for the next five years, will also be characterised by significant shifts from space operations to technology development and science.
With the shift in budget authority, NASA Centres focused on Earth observation, space technology, and aeronautics will see increases in funding, while those involved in human spaceflight will see major funding reductions. Indeed, the termination of the space shuttle programme will lead to a budget cut over USD 1 billion for space operations, resulting in a 21 percent budget cut for the Johnson Space Center. Overall, the agency’s budget for R and D will account for about 50 percent of all NASA spending.
“Budget allocation across Centres will vary greatly,” said Steve Bochinger, President of Euroconsult North America. “As NASA shifts priorities for human spaceflight from Shuttle operations to Human Exploration Capabilities and commercial spaceflight, the budget will be redirected to a range of technology development programs. Likewise, as NASA shifts its science mission focus away from space science to Earth science, the science budget will be redistributed among centres.”
Some of the findings include:1) Following an 11 percent increase in 2011, the Science Mission Directorate budget will remain at the USD 5 billion level through 2016. This increase, however, is entirely within the Earth science theme, reflecting the Administration’s priority on climate change research.2) Spending in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate has been impacted by the cancellation of Constellation and repositioning of exploration policy. But it will hold steady at around USD 3.9 billion between 2011 and 2016.3) The newly created Space Technology Directorate, is set to receive an average of USD 1 billion annually between 2012 and 2016. The programs here are designed to revitalise the agency’s ability to develop revolutionary technologies and innovations for exploration and robotic spaceflight.4) NASA’s restructuring of the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) will be focused on long-term investment in fundamental aeronautics and development of technologies required for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). Funding for the 2011-2016 period is expected to increase to a total of USD 570 million per year.
With these shifts in funding and priorities, NASA’s business practices will also adapt. The Euroconsult/Omnis report analyses how NASA’s shift from cost-plus contracting to fixed-price contracts will impact various programmes throughout the agency.
Source: Space Travel