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Our Fact Sheets and Reports

What's a Markup? Answers to That and Other Legislative Mysteries

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 03-Jan-2015 (Updated: 03-Jan-2015 02:38 PM)

Our popular "What's a Markup?" fact sheet was refreshed in January 2015.  It explains basic congressional terminology and the legislative mysteries involved in making a bill into law.   It is not meant to be a comprehensive treatment of lawmaking, but a beginner's guide for those interested in following space policy developments in Congress.

NOAA's FY2015 Budget Request for Satellites

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 26-May-2014 (Updated: 03-Jan-2015 11:49 AM)
NOAA's FY2015 Budget Request for Satellites is a free fact sheet that briefly describes President Obama's FY2015 budget request for NOAA's satellite programs in the Procurement, Acquisition and Construction (PAC) account and tracks congressional action on those programs during the FY2015 budget cycle.  The PAC account includes the vast majority of money NOAA spends on its weather satellites and other operational environmental satellite systems.  The fact sheet was updated as needed throughout 2014.  This is the final version, dated January 3, 2015.

NASA's FY2015 Budget Request

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 25-Mar-2014 (Updated: 03-Jan-2015 11:46 AM)
NASA's FY2015 Budget Request is a free fact sheet that briefly describes President Obama's FY2015 budget request for NASA and includes four tables identifying the request for specific NASA activities.  The fact sheet is updated as the request moves through Congress.   For FY2015, President Obama also is requesting funds for NASA as part of his Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative (OGSI) and that request is also discussed in this report.   This report was updated routinely throughout 2014.  This is the final version and is dated January 3, 2015.

NASA's FY2014 Budget Request

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 22-Jul-2013 (Updated: 24-Mar-2014 09:49 PM)
NASA's FY2014 Budget Request is a free fact sheet that includes a table showing how much money NASA is requesting for FY2014 in each of its accounts and subaccounts compared to how much it received for FY2013 after two rescissions and the sequester were applied to NASA's FY2013 budget.  The fact sheet then tracks congressional action on the FY2014 request, showing how much was approved by each of the congressional authorization and appropriations committees that consider NASA's funding request and how much NASA received in the final FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act ("the omnibus").   The final version of this fact sheet is dated March 4, 2014.

List of Russian Space Launch Failures Since December 2010

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 02-Jul-2013 (Updated: 08-Oct-2014 09:39 AM)

Russia's usually reliable fleet of space launch vehicles has been suffering a string of failures since December 2010.   A free Fact Sheet entitled List of Russian Space Launch Vehicle Failures Since Dec. 2010 provides a list of the failures and their causes, where known.  It is updated as needed and was most recently updated on October 8, 2014. 

China's Human Spaceflight Program: Background and List of Crewed and Automated Missions

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Jun-2013 (Updated: 17-Aug-2014 06:39 PM)


China's human spaceflight program, Project 921, officially began in 1992.  The launch of Shenzhou-10 in June 2013 was the tenth flight in the series, but only the fifth to carry a crew.

Shenzhou 1-4 were automated tests of the spacecraft.   Shenzhou-8 was an automated test of rendezvous and docking procedures with the Tiangong-1 space station.

Tiangong-1, China's first space station, was launched in September 2011.  It hosted the automated Shenzhou-8 in 2011 and two three-person crews:  Shenzhou-9 in 2012 and Shenzhou-10 in 2013.  

The Tiangong-1 space station is a small (8.6 metric ton) module. As first space stations go, it is rather modest -- just less than half the mass of the world's first space station, the Soviet Union's Salyut 1.  Launched in 1971, Salyut 1 had a mass of about 18.6 metric tons.  The first U.S. space station, Skylab, launched in 1973, had a mass of about 77 metric tons.  Today's International Space Station (ISS), a partnership among the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe, and Canada, has a mass of about 400 metric tons and has been permanently occupied by 2-6 person crews rotating on 4-6 month missions since the year 2000.

Chinese astronauts are often called "taikonauts" in the West. English-language Chinese reports call them astronauts.  Shenzhou means Divine Vessel.  Tiangong means Heavenly Palace.  All human spaceflight-related launches have been from the Jiuquan Space Launch Center in the Gobi desert.

The following table lists all ten Chinese human spaceflight missions to date, including automated tests and those that carried crews.

(Prepared by


Launch Date

Crew (# of flights)



Nov. 19, 1999


Automated test


Jan. 9, 2001


Automated test


Mar. 25, 2002


Automated test


Dec. 29, 2002


Automated test


Oct. 15, 2003

Yang Liwei

First Chinese astronaut
21 hour 12 min mission


Oct. 12, 2005

Fei Junlong
Nie Haisheng

First Chinese 2-person crew
5 day mission


Sept. 25, 2008

Zhai Zhigang
Liu Boming
Jing Haipeng

First Chinese 3-person crew
First Chinese spacewalk (Zhai for 22 min; Liu did stand-up EVA in airlock for about 2 min)
3 day mission
Small (40 kg) subsatellite ejected


Sept. 29, 2011


First Chinese space station (8.5 metric tons)


Oct. 31, 2011


Automated test of rendezvous and docking with Tiangong-1 (docked twice)


July 19, 2012

Jing Haipeng (2)
Liu Wang
Liu Yang

First Chinese space station crew; automated and manual docking
Liu Yang first Chinese woman astronaut
Jing first Chinese astronaut to make 2 flights
13 day mission


June 11, 2013

Nie Haisheng (2)
Zhang Xiaoguang
Wang Yaping

Automated docking with Tiangong-1 June 13.  Later did manual docking test, and, just before reentry, a fly-around (China's first).
Wang second Chinese woman astronaut and first "teacher in space" because she taught a lesson from space
15 day mission


Legislative Checklist 113th Congress: Major Space-Related Legislation

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 01-Feb-2013 (Updated: 03-Jan-2015 12:01 PM)
Legislative Checklist 113th Congress:  Major Space-Related Legislation is a free fact sheet that provides information on major legislation concerning the U.S. space program (civil, military, commercial) pending before or passed by the 113th Congress (2013-2014).   Information includes bill numbers, dates of action taken by congressional committees, and links to legislation and related congressional committee reports.  The fact sheet was updated as needed throughout the 113th Congress.   This is the final version, dated January 3, 2015.

NASA's FY2013 Budget Request

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-Feb-2012 (Updated: 04-Sep-2013 10:14 PM)

NASA's FY2013 Budget Request is a fact sheet that tracked NASA's FY2013 budget request as it worked its way through Congress.  The fact sheet summarizes three key issues that arose while Congress debated the bill:  robotic Mars exploration, whether to transfer NOAA's weather satellite programs to NASA, and funding for the commercial crew program. 

This edition of the fact sheet includes final funding figures for NASA from its FY2013 operating plan, which was approved in August 2013.  NASA has not released the operating plan to the public, but provided the figures in this fact sheet upon request by on August 29, 2013. In addition, it includes a chart using data provided by NASA's planetary science division director with additional details on the final FY2013 funding figures for specific planetary exploration programs.

The current date of this fact sheet is September 4, 2013.




FY2013 Budget Requests for Space Activities: Where to Find Agency Budget Documentation

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 13-Feb-2012 (Updated: 15-Sep-2012 01:43 PM)
FY2013 Budget Request for Space Activities:  Where to Find Agency Budget Documentation is a fact sheet that provides links to FY2013 budget request documentation for U.S. government space activities.  Included are links to budget materials for the Department of Defense (DOD), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which operates the Landsat land remote sensing satellites.  This fact sheet is dated September 15, 2012 and updates the link for NOAA's Blue Book.

Box Score of 2011 Launches

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-Jan-2012 (Updated: 16-Jan-2012 07:32 PM)
Box Score of 2011 Space Launches is a free fact sheet from that shows the total number of space launches in 2011 by Russia, the United States, Europe (Arianespace), China, Japan, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea and South Korea.   The table shows how  many space launches were successful and how many were failures.