In FY 1995, NSF created what is now known as the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account to support the “acquisition, construction, commissioning, and upgrading of major research equipment, facilities, and other such capital assets” that cost more than several tens of millions of dollars.1 As of September 2003, the account has funded 12 large facility projects, and four new projects are proposed in NSF’s FY 2004 budget request to receive funding. Note that in some cases there was or is a gap in funding.

The projects listed below have been, are being, or are proposed to be supported by the MREFC account. They appear with the fiscal year in which construction funding began or is proposed to begin.

Construction Projects Supported in the Past:

  • Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)—FY 1992

  • Gemini Observatories—FY 1991

  • Polar Support Aircraft Upgrades—FY 1999

  • South Pole Safety and Environmental Project (SPSE)—FY 1997

  • Terascale Computing Projects—FY 2000

Construction Projects Currently Being Supported:

  • South Pole Station Modernization (SPSM)—FY 1998

  • Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—FY 1999

  • Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES)—FY 2000

  • Atacama Large Millimeter Array/Millimeter Array (ALMA/ MMA)—FY 1998

  • EarthScope—FY 2003

  • IceCube Neutrino Detector—FY 2002

Initiated Projects Currently Experiencing a Gap in MRE Funding:

  • High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER)—FY 2000


Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, National Science Foundation: Major Research Equipment and Facility Construction (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2002).

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