Highlights of the 1996 Federal Government Proposed Budget

NASA Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Program: The President's National Space Transportation Policy directed NASA to begin fundamental research on a next generation launch vehicle designed to significantly cut the costs of access to space. NASA's budget proposes $159 million to initiate a program in preparation for a White House decision in 1996. Discrete criteria, validated by an external panel, will provide the basis on whether to develop a sub-scale test vehicle to demonstrate the concept of single stage to orbit. These efforts, in cooperation with the private sector, are the first step to providing inexpensive access to space, and will help reposition U.S. industry atop the global commercial space launch market.

International Space Station: The budget proposes $2.1 billion for the international Space Station, a U.S.-led collaborative effort with the European Space Agency, Canada, Japan, and Russia. The Space Station will be an orbital research facility to study life sciences, materials sciences, engineering research, and advanced technology development. Prior to its assembly in 1997-2002, NASA will conduct at least seven Space Shuttle flights to the Russian Mir space station--three in 1996--to make assembly and operation of the Space Station easier and safer.

NASA Aeronautics Initiative: The aeronautics industry generates about $100 billion a year in revenues, employs roughly 1,000,000 people in high-quality jobs, and generates a larger positive balance of trade than any other U.S. manufacturing industry. NASA develops aeronautical technologies, pursues basic research, and operates national aeronautical facilities for Government and industry. The budget proposes $434 million for the highest priority NASA aeronautics programs--High Speed Research (HSR) and Advanced Subsonic Technology (AST)--an $87 million, or 25-percent, increase over 1995. The budget proposes no additional funding for a national wind tunnel complex. Instead, NASA will use prior-year funds to refine design options and develop financing arrangements with industry to explore a possible 1997 request for funds. As a result, the Administration proposes to reverse an item in a 1995 appropriations bill that rescinds $400 million for the wind tunnels.

NASA New Millennum Initiative (NMI): The NMI is promoting a new class of technology-intensive, smaller, faster, and cheaper space missions. These programs should dramatically reduce costs, increase flight opportunities, and improve mission performance compared to current NASA programs. Each program will have innovative procurement and management approaches and firm performance criteria fixed to a cost cap. These programs will include micro-satellite missions to other planets and the next generation of micro-spacecraft and small rocket technologies. The budget proposes $495 million for the NMI, a $103 million increase over 1995.

Advanced Research Project Agency/Technology Reinvestment Project (ARPA/TRP): The Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP) implements the Defense Department's strategy of dual-use technologies to cut procurement costs and rapidly insert new technologies into defense systems. ARPA, in the Defense Department, awards TRP funds competitively, on a cost-shared basis, to industry-led projects designed to create new dual-use technologies. TRP projects develop emerging dual-use technologies, such as flat-panel displays and high-density data storage devices, that are critical to national security. At the same time, the projects promote defense technology transfer to commercial applications, to make the technology more widely used and more affordable and accessible to the military. The budget proposes $500 million for TRP in 1996, a $57 million or 13-percent increase over 1995.

Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Research Facilities Initiative: The budget proposes adding $100 million above the 1995 level to significantly enhance the usage of major DOE-operated basic research facilities. These leading-edge facilities serve the university, Government, and industry research community. The budget proposal will facilitate a more efficient use of the facilities, boost the number of users by several thousand over 1995, and improve the quality of service. A fifth of the funds will go directly to users through competitive grants.

National Science Foundation (NSF): The NSF's charter is to promote scientific progress by awarding competitive grants to institutions for research and education. The budget proposes $2.5 billion for NSF's R&D activities, a $90 million or four-percent increase over 1995. Including NSF's non-R&D education and other activities, the NSF budget would be $3.4 billion. In 1995, the Congress proposed additional funds for a new interagency academic infrastructure modernization program. In the current budget environment, the Administration proposes to rescind the funds.

Academic Research: The budget proposes $12.5 billion in 1996 for university-based research, an increase of $863 million or seven percent over the 1995 level. University-based research continues to create knowledge, spur technological innovation, and train the next generation of scientists and engineers