Date: May 4, 2006 Contacts: Maureen O'Leary, Director of Public Information Michelle Strikowsky, Media Relations Assistant Office of News and Public Information 202-334-2138; e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NASA Lacks Resources Needed to Sustain Vigorous Science Program
WASHINGTON --- NASA does not have the resources necessary to maintain a vigorous science program, complete the International Space Station, and return humans to the moon, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies' National Research Council.
"There is a mismatch between what NASA has been assigned to do and the resources with which it has been provided," said Lennard A. Fisk, chair of the committee that wrote the report and Thomas M. Donahue Collegiate Professor of Space Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "We are particularly concerned that the shortfall in funding for science has fallen disproportionately on small missions and on funding for basic research and technology. These actions run the risk of disrupting the pipeline of human capital and technology that is essential for the future success of the space program."
The committee reviewed NASA's plan for research programs for the next five years in space science, which includes astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary science, and astrobiology; earth science; and microgravity life and physical sciences. The committee found that the program proposed for space and earth sciences is neither robust nor sustainable, and that it is not properly balanced to support a healthy mix of small, moderate-sized, and large missions.
The report recommends that NASA restore small missions, research and analysis programs, and technology investment in the future missions. The agency also should preserve the ground-based and flight research required to support long-duration human space flight. For space and earth sciences, the committee concluded that the short-term resource allocation problem is modest, probably slightly more than 1 percent of the total NASA budget. To revive the microgravity life and physical sciences, the short-term allocation of resources needed is also modest -- less than 1 percent of the total NASA budget.
The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. It is a private, nonprofit institution that provides science advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows.