"Congress continues to debate NASA's International Space Station (ISS), a permanently occupied facility in Earth orbit where astronauts live and conduct research. Congress appropriated approximately $35 billion for the program from FY1985-2005. The initial FY2006 ISS request was $2.180 billion: $1.857 billion for construction and operations and $324 million for research to be conducted by ISS crews. In a July budget amendment, NASA transferred $168 million for ISS Crew/Cargo Services to another part of the NASA budget and reduced the ISS request commensurately. The final version of the FY2006 appropriations bill that includes NASA (H.R. 2862) cuts $80 million from the originally submitted budget, and NASA now plans to spend $306 million, instead of $324 million, on ISS research in FY2006. The space station is being assembled in Earth orbit. ISS segments, crews, and cargo are taken into orbit by Russian or U.S. spacecraft. ISS has been permanently occupied by successive 'Expedition' crews rotating on 4-6 month shifts since November 2000. 'Expedition 12' is now aboard. Cost growth and schedule delays have characterized the program since its inception. The grounding of the space shuttle fleet after the 2003 'Columbia' tragedy and the July 2005 'Discovery' 'Return to Flight' mission is further affecting schedule, operations, and cost. Most of the remaining ISS segments are designed to be launched by the shuttle and construction therefore is suspended. President Bush's January 2004 'Vision for Space Exploration' also is affecting the ISS program. He directed that the shuttle program be terminated in 2010, and changed the focus of ISS-based research to only that which supports his 'Moon/Mars' Vision instead of the broadly-based program that was planned."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB93017
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/