NASA cuts

So, got confirmation of initial round of cuts.

NASA HQ is preparing for budget problems by starting to pull back funds already allocated, in anticipation of fiscal year 2010-11 cuts. Between possible government shutdown, and the uncertainty over the Senate response to the House cuts, and a possible veto, it is hard to know what the funding will be in the end, or indeed if there will be any guidance on what to cut.


Major cuts to current ongoing mission operations and data analysis.

Specifcally, Swift and Chandra are cut. I hear three other missions are also cut, but don’t know which. Anyone heard?
That is just in Astrophysics, no word on other Science directorates. Yet.
This will hurt.
Earth Science will undoubtedly also take a hit, and the House will go after them further for 2012.

Also heard that W-FIRST is off the table, not going to happen (unless of course Congress line items it); also no EUCLID participation.
In fact no major new mission pipelined for the foreseeable future.

Next question is what Congress will do with JWST, sitting out there all by itself as a separate line item within Science. It will make a tempting target for budget cutters looking for trophies.

I’ve also heard of some individual PI grants being deobligated for this fiscal year, already – no rescission yet, that I’ve heard of, money disbursed stays, but remaining portion of grant for this year is not being disbursed. Anecdotally, from a science agency not to be specified at this point.

Interesting times.


  1. #1 FuturePostdoc
    February 21, 2011

    I can see WFIRST being off the table, but how sure are Swift/Chandra shutdowns?

  2. #2 Keith Arnaud
    February 21, 2011

    Are you sure that this is in response to Congress rather than an attempt to find more money for JWST ?

    The administration’s FY12 budget noted that GALEX and Suzaku would cease operations at the end of FY11.

  3. #3 Johnny Vector
    February 21, 2011

    Keith, things were tight but there was money, at least for Explorers, up to now. They found a couple extra million for at least one smaller program, all “contingent on expected funding from Congress”. AFAICT, this is really a response to congress. Guess it’s time for tea.

  4. #4 Steinn Sigurdsson
    February 21, 2011

    @FP – Swift and Chandra are not shut down, the MODA funds are cut, for this year, not next.

    @Keith – the word is that this is heading off Congress and the unknown size of the actual final cut. Clearly it shelters JWST for now

    Tea has been served, not we’ll see what the Senate has to say.

  5. #5 Steinn Sigurdsson
    February 21, 2011

    I am reliably informed that I confounded two separate issues, despite trying to keep them clearly separate.

    Some of the cuts I heard about as coming now are in fact the cuts in next fiscal year, assuming budget is as proposed by the President, which it won’t be.

    The current fiscal year cuts are still uncertain, of course, because the Senate has not acted yet. Also, it is not clear, for example for NASA, if they’ll be allowed to stop paying for the solid rocket booster development for the canceled Constellation mission – that is almost a $1B in the continuing resolution and if halted would save $500M, there is also language directing cuts to Center operations, in which case most of the cuts would be contained to Center contractors, and less would cascade to the PI level.

    But, the Senators to like their Centers, and that is likely to be changed.

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