NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden testified before Congress today, providing more details of the NASA 2011 budget. Below is a summary of his testimony before the Subcommittee on Science and Space of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The complete statement can be obtained here.
Here is a broad outline of the FY 2011 budget plan followed by more details. In FY 2011, NASA will undertake:
• Transformative technology development and demonstrations to pursue new approaches to human spaceflight exploration with more sustainable and advanced capabilities that will allow Americans to explore the Moon, Mars and other destinations. This effort will include a flagship demonstration program, with international partners, commercial and other government entities, to demonstrate critical technologies, such as in-orbit propellant transfer and storage, inflatable modules, automated/autonomous rendezvous and docking, closed-loop life support systems, and other next-generation capabilities. It will also include projects that are smaller and shorter-duration, which will demonstrate a broad range of key technologies, including in-situ resource utilization and advanced in-space propulsion.
• Heavy-lift propulsion research and development that will investigate a broad scope of R&D activities to support next-generation space launch propulsion technologies, with the aim of reducing costs and shortening development timeframes for future heavy-lift systems for human exploration.
• Robotic precursor missions to multiple destinations in the solar system in support of future human exploration, including missions to the Moon, Mars and its moons, Lagrange points, and nearby asteroids.
• Significant investments for the development of commercial crew and further cargo capabilities, building on the successful progress in the development of commercial cargo capabilities to-date. NASA will allocate these funds through competitive solicitations that support a range of higher- and lower-programmatic risk systems and system components, such as human-rating of existing launch vehicles and development of new spacecraft that can ride on multiple launch vehicles.
• Extension of the lifetime of the International Space Station (ISS), likely to 2020 or beyond, in concert with our international partners, with investments in expanded ISS utilization through upgrades to both ground support and onboard systems and use of the ISS as a National Laboratory.
• Pursuit of cross-cutting Space Technology capabilities, led by the newly established Office of the Chief Technologist, which will fund advancements in next-generation technologies, to help improve the Nation’s leadership in key research areas, enable far-term capabilities, and spawn game-changing innovations that can unlock new possibilities and make space activities more affordable and sustainable. A NASA focus on innovation and technology will enable new approaches to our current mission set and allow us to pursue entirely new missions for the Nation.
• Climate change research and observations, which will enable NASA to substantially accelerate and expand its Earth Science capabilities, including a replacement for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, development of new satellites recommended by the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey, and development of smaller Venture class missions. This investment will ensure the critically important continuity of certain key climate measurements and enable new measurements to address unknowns in the climate system, yielding expanded understanding of our home planet and improved understanding of climate change.
• Aeronautics research and development, including critical areas of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, environmentally responsible aviation, and safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.
• Education initiatives, including the recently announced Summer of Innovation pilot program involving NASA scientist and curricula to inspire middle-school students and their teachers with exciting experiences that spur those students to continue in STEM careers.