science optimally. For some activities a clear path emerged to deployment from this analysis, while for others it became equally clear that certain milestones would have to be met before the activity could proceed to full implementation. For still other activities, the scientific and technical landscapes were found to be shifting too rapidly for the survey to make a definitive recommendation now, and so a strategy for addressing the science and/or retiring the technical risk is recommended.


A prime task of this survey was to construct a program that is innovative and exciting yet also realistic and balanced in terms of the range and scale of federally supported activities. The committee chose for convenience and clarity to exhibit budgets in the form of unencumbered FY2010 dollars available for new initiatives, and it started by considering the agency-projected budgets.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Although the NASA Astrophysics Division’s annual budget has been as high as $1.7 billion in the past,4 it is currently approximately $1.1 billion and projected to remain flat in real-year dollars through 2015, according to the President’s FY2011 budget, and to remain flat thereafter according to NASA input to the committee. This implies a decrease in purchasing power over the decade at the rate of inflation. The committee concluded that this budget outlook allows very little in the way of new initiatives until mid-decade, by which time the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) should be launched and opportunities for new funding wedges will open up. The committee also considered, as a basis for recommending a program, a more optimistic scenario in which the budget is flat over the decade in FY2010 dollars.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Although the overall NSF budget is promised to “double,” or increase by 7 percent each year for 10 years in real dollars, the agency input to the committee was that the Division of Astronomical Sciences (NSF-AST) portion of the budget would remain flat over the decade in FY2010 dollars (requiring approximately 3 percent growth per year in real-year dollars).5


Given here in FY2010 dollars; this was during the time of peak expenditure on the James Webb Space Telescope (from Paul Hertz, Chief Scientist, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, “Presentation to the Board on Physics and Astronomy,” April 26, 2006, Washington, D.C., available at


Note that the NSF-AST budget did benefit from a one-time injection of $86 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus money in FY2009.

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