Crew Return Vehicle - X-38 - Funding Issues

Funding Issues

In 1999, NASA projected the cost of the X-38 program at US$96 million (Space Flight Advanced Projects funds) and the actual CRV program at US$1.1 billion (ISS Program funds). A year later, the X-38 costs had risen to US$124.3 million, with the increased cost being paid for by ISS funds. Part of the increased cost was the result of the need to operationally test the CRV with at least one, and possibly more, shuttle launches.

The ESA chose not to fund the CRV program directly, but instead decided to allow ESA-participating governments to fund the program individually, starting in 1999. Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland all indicated that they would make substantial contributions.

U.S. funding for the NASA/ESA CRV was never a settled issue. In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 funding bill, Congress recommended a funding amount of US$275 million, but made it clear that this was conditional:

he Committee does not anticipate providing additional funds for this purpose unless it is made clear that the Administration and the international partners are committed to the International Space Station as a research facility. For this reason, the language included in the bill would rescind the $275,000,000 unless the Administration requests at least $200,000,000 for the crew return vehicle in the fiscal year 2003 NASA budget request.

Furthermore, funding of the CRV program was tied to Administration justification of the mission of the ISS:

By March 1, 2002, the President shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate a comprehensive plan that meets the following terms and conditions: First, a clear and unambiguous statement on the role of research in the International Space Station program. Second, a detailed outline of the efforts being pursued to provide habitation facilities for a full-time crew of no less than six persons.... Third, the anticipated costs of the crew return vehicle program by fiscal year.... Fourth, the relative priority of the crew return vehicle development program in the context of the International Space Station. The Committee does not intend to provide any additional funds or approve the release of any of the $275,000,000 provided in this bill, until all conditions are fully satisfied.

Read more about this topic:  Crew Return Vehicle, X-38

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