respectively. Within the NASA totals, the science, aeronautics, and technology account was targeted for growth of $348 million over FY2000, with major portions of that growth allocated to solar system exploration missions including the Mars Surveyor program, a “Living with a Star ” initiative in solar and space physics, restoration of the New Millennium technology validation program, and enhancements in life and microgravity sciences. To be sure, submission of the budget request to the Congress was only the first step in a long and often unpredictable process, but early congressional reactions were generally supportive. Major hurdles that remained to be resolved included the questions of whether Congress would seek to move funds from domestic discretionary accounts, where the most science budgets sit, to increase defense allocations and whether efforts to provide larger tax reductions would reduce the sums available for spending by federal agencies.
The European Space Agency (ESA) was to have a budget of $2.6 billion for the year 2000. The budget was allocated primarily to launch vehicles, Earth observation programs, and human spaceflight (55.7%), while scientific programs would receive 13.2% of the total budget. As in previous years, France provided the largest membernation contribution to the ESA budget (29.4%); Germany (25.7%) and Italy (14%) were also large contributors. Twelve other countries—Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom—provided the remainder of ESA 's budget.
In recent ESA science news, the agency was evaluating six proposals for the second and third of its Flex missions. These missions were introduced in 1997 to incorporate smaller missions and more flexibility into the ESA program, which had focused in the past on larger, cornerstone missions. The Mars Express mission, scheduled for launch in 2003, is the first such Flex mission. The candidates for the next Flex missions (at a budget of no more than $168 million) included ESA participation in the Next Generation Space Telescope, a planned follow-on to the Hubble Space Telescope. Other proposals included a three-spacecraft mission to explore the magnetospheric “ring current” left after solar eruptions and a solar orbiter that will travel to within approximately 30 million kilometers from the Sun, allowing detailed views of the surface and atmosphere and direct sensing of solar wind effects and energized particles. Other proposed projects included an asteroid belt mission, a test of precise atomic gyroscopes and motion sensors, a test of fundamental predictions of quantum theory, and a telescope to study stars for oscillations and passing planets. The selection process was expected to take place in the fall of 2000.
The Space Studies Board held its 130th meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 6-8. A main focus of the meeting was the administration 's FY2001 budget request, with presentations from Steve Isakowitz, Office of Management and Budget, Tim Peterson, House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies, and Shana Dale and Richard Obermann, House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. NASA Associate Administrators Edward Weiler, Arnauld Nicogossian, and Ghassem Asrar and NOAA Assistant Administrator Gregory Withee also presented information on the budget and about their specific programs.
The Board heard a presentation from NASA Associate Administrator Joseph Rothenberg on the International Space Station and the Human Exploration and Development for Space Enterprise. NASA Special Advisor Spence Armstrong spoke with the Board about his thoughts on a new initiative for NASA-university partnerships. He planned to produce a white paper on the topic for the NASA Administrator within a few weeks. Robert Cassanova from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts spoke on the goals and activities of his program.
Jean-Claude Worms, executive secretary of the European Space Science Committee (ESSC), provided an update on the ESSC's programs. The ESSC was planning an April workshop on international collaboration for large-scale space science objectives, and several SSB observers will be present.
The meeting included splinter sessions on the review of the Office of Space Science strategic plan and possible new studies on data mining and on NASA-university partnerships.
NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin spoke to Board members about his goals for NASA, particularly in the new areas of biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology. He also expressed enthusiasm for a new study under the Board on Physics and Astronomy regarding research opportunities at the intersections of fundamental physics and astrophysics.
The Board heard from representatives of the three NASA advisory committees relating to science: Megan Urry represented the Space Science Advisory Committee, Gerard Faeth the Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications Advisory Committee, and Robert Schiffer the Earth System Science and Applications Advisory Committee. Increased interaction to promote effective communication between those groups and the Board is a goal.
The Board approved a statement of task for a new study on solar connections by the Committee on Solar and Space Physics. It gave preliminary approval for a letter report assessing NASA's Solar System Exploration