BOX 13.1
Summary of Support for NASA’s Robust Life and Physical
Sciences Research Program, 1996-2001

In fiscal year 1996 the budget for NASA’s Office of Life and Microgravity Science and Applications covered a portfolio that mirrors much of the set of integrated recommendations presented in this report as well as the development of a great deal of hardware for the conduct of that portfolio on the International Space Station (ISS). By 2001, some hardware was still being developed, but hardware expenditures had dropped off significantly, allowing the number of funded tasks to begin to increase. By 2010, however, the breadth of the portfolio had shrunk considerably, and the number of tasks had dropped by about two-thirds. Currently there is no single source for obtaining a full accounting of all ground- and space-based life and microgravity science research conducted by NASA, but by any measure both the content of the funded current portfolio and the sum of supported tasks are considerably lower than in 1996-2001.


Fiscal Year Number of Tasksa Budget (million $) Program Contents
1996 872 ~500 Technology and applications for space research and human support in space, environmental health (microbiology, toxicology, barophysiology, and radiobiology), advanced life support, space human factors, advanced space suits, space biology research, plant biology, combustion science, materials science, fluids, fundamental physics, and supporting orbital operations and research
2001 1,014 ~300 Advanced human support, biomedical countermeasures, gravitational biology and ecology, microgravity research, materials science, environmental health, tissue engineering, telescience, human factors, radiation research
2010 364 ~150 Research supporting human exploration and ISS life and physical sciences research, including the Human Research Program and the small portion of research within the Exploration Technology Demonstration Program that is related to life and physical sciences research

NOTE: Numbers obtained from NASA task books and presentations to the Committee for the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space.

aCorrelates closely with number of principal investigators.

Such an enterprise will serve as a necessary foundation for the agency to build a solid, robust, and transparent research base shaped by the recommendations from this decadal survey coupled with future policy directions.

The committee points out that a large integrated portfolio of research similar to the complete set of research recommendations contained in this study was supported by NASA in the mid-1990s through the early 2000s (Box 13.1).


In assembling the recommended integrated portfolio of research, the committee has mapped the chapters’ highest-priority recommendations against eight prioritization criteria that it believes are relevant to broadly informing policy decisions with regard to future space program options (Box 13.2). The recommendations address unanswered questions related to the health and welfare of humans undertaking extended space missions; to technologies needed to support such missions; and to logistical issues potentially affecting the health of space travel-

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