Unfortunately, over only a few years’ time, nearly all non-medical research in this program was canceled owing to a lack of funds and budget reprioritizations focused on the Constellation program. This was a serious blow to the life and physical sciences program within NASA because, since the late 1990s, there had been little or no flight program of substance to expand on the knowledge base established throughout the prior decade. From 2003 to the present time, the budget for biological and fundamental microgravity sciences within NASA has been reduced by more than 90 percent from its prior level, with only modest protection via a congressional mandate, and little opportunity remains (as mandated to NASA) for conducting even ground-based research. This is true for U.S.-led fundamental and applied hypothesis-driven research initiatives, and the committee notes that the only human research being performed on the ISS is agency-sponsored mission operations research. Although the remaining components of the life and physical sciences program are providing important scientific information, as described in subsequent chapters of this report, the extramural research community in these fields of space science is not part of the equation. Potential approaches to addressing these and other organizational issues are discussed in Chapter 12.
1 Grindeland, R.E., Ilyn, E.A., Holley, D.C., and Skidmore, M.G. 2005. International collaboration on Russian spacecraft and the case for free flyer biosatellites. Pp. 41-80 in Experimentation with Animal Models in Space (G. Sonnenfeld, ed.). Advances in Space Biology and Medicine, Volume 10. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
2 National Research Council. 2003. Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.