Jeffrey LewisNational Aerospace Initiative

The National Research Council recently released a study (April 2004) of the National Aerospace Initiative, a DDRE/NASA initiative to invest in hypersonics, space access, and space technology. A lot of this research is worthwhile, but a lot is also wasteful.

The NRC study has some detailed budgetary information and a list of programs (hypersonic ABM interceptors?) in the appendices.

The budgetary levels programmed for NAI have always been a mystery to me. Apparently the NRC was just as baffled. The study, however, contains some suggestive information about funding for Air Force NAI-related programs, citing an unpublished presentation by an O-6 at the Air Force Research Laboratory:

                       Then Year Million US$
FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 FY09
378.4 243.0 275.4 303.2 347.4 326.5

That is almost two billion for the Air Force alone. The NRC concluded that it “could not obtain a clear, comprehensive picture of NAI funding. Although bits and pieces of funding data appeared in some of the presentations, the committee could not determine what is being spent or is planned to be spent on NAI. Thus, it lacked the information it needed to assess the NAI/’s financial feasibility.”

Somehow, however, NRC still concluded that NAI is “underfunded” and that “sharply higher budgets will be required” for many objectives. Sharply higher?

I wonder how that will go over in Congress, after they directed the Director of Defense Research and Engineering to submit a report “outlining the technology roadmap and capability requirements, including basic research activities, necessary to achieve the NAI goals”?