Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction $126,280,000
The FY 2003 Budget Request for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) is $126.28 million, a decrease of $12.52 million, or 9.0 percent, below the FY 2002 Current Plan of $138.80 million.
(Millions of Dollars)
The MREFC Account supports the acquisition, construction and commissioning of major research facilities and equipment that provide unique capabilities at the frontiers of science and engineering. Projects supported by this account are intended to extend the boundaries of technology and open new avenues for discovery for the science and engineering community. Initial planning and design, and follow on operations and maintenance costs of the facilities are provided through the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) Account. For potential future MREFC projects currently in planning and development, see individual Activity sections.
In FY 2003, funding for seven projects is requested through the MREFC account. NSF's first priority is to continue funding of the following five projects initiated in FY 2002 and prior years: construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), the South Pole Station Modernization Project (SPSM), and Terascale Computing Systems. NSF's second priority is the initiation of two new projects: Earthscope and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Phase I. The National Science Board's top priority for projects new in FY 2002 and FY 2003 (in alphabetical order) is ALMA, Earthscope, and NEON.
No funding is requested for the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) project or the IceCube R&D project in FY 2003. These projects are lower priority than those contained in this budget request.
The NSB reviews and approves potential MREFC projects for inclusion in future budget requests. The Director then selects from the group of NSB-approved projects those appropriate for inclusion in a budget request to OMB, and after discussion with OMB, to the Congress. Hence, in addition to the MREFC projects discussed in this section, there are several other NSB approved projects for which NSF is not requesting MREFC funds at this time. These are: Rare Symmetry Violating Processes (RSVP), the Ocean Observatories Initiative, and Scientific Ocean Drilling. These projects, including their costs, are further discussed in the Tools section of the cognizant Activity.
NSF Funding for MREFC Projects
(Millions of Dollars)
Totals may not add due to rounding.
Atacama Large Millimeter Array
The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), originally the Millimeter Array (MMA), is an aperture-synthesis radio telescope operating in the wavelength range from 3 to 0.4 mm. Combining an angular resolution comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope with the sensitivity of a single antenna nearly 100 meters in diameter, ALMA will be the world's most sensitive, highest resolution, millimeter-wavelength telescope. It will provide a testing ground for theories of star birth and stellar evolution, galaxy formation and evolution, and the evolution of the universe itself. ALMA will reveal the inner workings of the central black hole "engines" which power quasars, and will make possible a search for planets around hundreds of nearby stars.
International or other-agency participation at the 25-50 percent level was a goal of the MMA project from the outset. Extensive discussions with potential partners in Europe and Japan were carried out beginning in FY 1999, and in June 1999, a memorandum of understanding merging U.S. and European design and development efforts for ALMA was signed between the National Science Foundation and a consortium of European institutions and funding agencies. As part of the joint Design and Development program, the U.S. and European partners adopted identical antenna specifications, and agreed to select different contractors in order to maintain the maximum degree of competition in the antenna selection process.
A $26.0 million, three-year Design and Development Phase was originally planned and spent for the MMA project. However, the U.S. partnership with the European consortium entailed expanded managerial and technical complexity, and an additional 9 months of Design and Development work was carried out in FY 2001 at a level of $5.99 million.
In FY 2002 ALMA construction activities are being initiated at funding level of $12.50 million. A major emphasis of FY 2002 activities is to transition smoothly from Design and Development into an efficiently operating, international construction partnership. Accordingly, major FY 2002 milestones include finalizing and signing the international ALMA Agreement, taking delivery of the ALMA prototype antenna and beginning its engineering evaluation, installing the radiometric instrumentation fabricated at NRAO for the purpose of demonstrating that the prototype antenna meets its design specifications, and initiating the advance engineering analysis and architectural design required to begin preparation of the array site in Chile.
The goal of the U.S.-European ALMA partnership is an array consisting of 64 twelve-meter diameter antennas. The intent of the European ALMA partners is to match equally the maximum U.S. share of the MMA project in order to construct the most scientifically capable array possible. Construction of ALMA is expected to take 9 years. Including inflation, the U.S. share of ALMA construction is estimated to total $344.13 million. Joint detailed cost and scope studies of the array by the partners have been carried out, and a high-level agreement, specifying the details of the U.S.-European capital construction partnership, has been drafted. Canada has proposed to join the U.S. side of the ALMA partnership and Japan may join ALMA as a third major partner at a later date, possibly in 2004. The full cost of constructing ALMA, including the contributions of the international partners, is estimated to be $702.0 million. Including the $31.99 million expended for Design and Development, the U.S. share of the total ALMA project is estimated to be $376.12 million.
Activities proposed for FY 2003 will be paced by tasks leading to procurement of the production antennas. Initial engineering and scientific verification of the prototype antenna will be completed, and a second phase of verification studies will be started, aided by the delivery to the antenna test site of the prototype ALMA correlator. Prototypes of the entire intermediate frequency (IF) transmission system also will be delivered to the antenna test site for system integration and verification, including a subset of the ALMA IF down-converter subsystem and prototype digital transmitters and receivers. In Chile, a contract will be let for the detailed architectural and engineering design of the site based on the conceptual design developed in FY 2002.
Prior to FY 1998, NSF provided about $2.0 million through the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) Account to advance the conceptual development of the Millimeter Array, the U.S.-only antecedent to ALMA. Funds were spent on conferences, array design and optimization, developing project construction and operations costs, and on site searches and surveys.
The expected operational lifespan of ALMA is expected to be at least 30 years, and excluding inflation, the anticipated annual operations and management budget will be approximately $23.0 million by about FY 2012, funded through the R&RA Account. Oversight of this project is provided through the Astronomy Subactivity within the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Activity.
NSF Support for ALMA
(Millions of Dollars)
Milestones for ALMA are outlined below.
EarthScope is a distributed, multi-purpose geophysical instrument array that will make major advances in our knowledge and understanding of the structure and dynamics of the North American continent. EarthScope is envisioned as a unique, downward-looking telescope composed of three elements. The first element is USArray, a dense array of high-capability seismometers that will be deployed in a step-wise fashion throughout the U.S. to greatly improve our resolution of the subsurface structure. The second element is the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD), which will provide access for the first time to a major seismogenic fault at depth to monitor fault conditions and study nucleation and rupture processes of earthquakes. The third element is the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO). PBO is composed of an array of continuously recording GPS (Global Positioning System) and borehole strain systems. GPS monitors the position of points on the Earth's crust, and borehole strain systems monitor crustal strain (deformation) at a shallow point within the Earth's crust. Both techniques combine to form a high-accuracy, state-of-the-art array to monitor crustal deformation. All EarthScope systems are ready to build now and will be capable of focusing on the continent's structure and internal dynamics at periods from one hour to decades.
EarthScope is essential in implementing a systems-based approach to understanding and simulating earthquake physics. Direct long-term benefits to society are anticipated through improved predictive capability for probabilistic earthquake hazard. Improved earthquake strong-motion predictions will be beneficial through local building code improvements and as essential input to NSF's Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) project that will study the response of the built environment to earthquakes.
EarthScope investigations will be done in close partnership with local and state governments, federal agencies such as the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA, with Canada and Mexico when investigations border on those countries, and with the International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme.
From FY 1998 to FY 2002, about $6.0 million was provided through the R&RA Account to support workshops, instrument development, and installation technique development appropriate to EarthScope, and to support pre-EarthScope activities that would facilitate construction and installation.
The FY 2003 request for funding to initiate construction of EarthScope: USArray, San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD), and Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) is $35.0 million. Total NSF construction funding for this project is $197.0 million and is scheduled to be completed in FY 2007. Oversight of this project is provided through the Earth Sciences Subactivity within the Geosciences (GEO) Activity. When EarthScope is completed, it will be operated by a consortium that includes participation from host institutions, affiliate organizations, and the user community. The expected operational lifespan of this project is about 15 years, and excluding inflation, the annual operations and management budget will be approximately $13.0 million, funded through the R&RA Account.
NSF Support for EarthScope
(Millions of Dollars)
Milestones for EarthScope are outlined below:
FY 2008 - FY 2012:
High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research
In FY 2002, $35.0 million was appropriated to continue the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) project. HIAPER will be a new atmospheric research aircraft equipped with next generation scientific instrumentation. Once operational, HIAPER will allow cutting edge science to be conducted more efficiently, cost-effectively, and in new ways than previously possible. HIAPER will complement the existing U.S. airborne science fleet.
From FY 2000 through FY 2002 a total of $55.97 million has been appropriated for HIAPER. A contract between the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and Gulfstream Aircraft Corporation (GAC) was signed in December 2001. The signed contract calls for the acquisition of a "green" Gulfstream V airframe and structural modifications to meet science instrumentation requirements by Lockheed-Martin Corporation. As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11th and the general economic downturn, several contracts for Gulfstream V aircraft have been canceled. GAC has notified UCAR that delivery could be made as early as mid-summer. If the modification contractor, Lockheed-Martin, can accommodate an earlier delivery date of the green airframe for modifications, UCAR will accept an early delivery of the airframe.
Initial R&RA funding of about $700,000 provided support for workshops to identify the highest priority performance characteristics and platform requirements, and for other workshops, reviews and best practices consultations with federal and nonfederal experts. The total funding required to complete this project is $81.50 million. No funds for HIAPER have been requested for FY 2003. Oversight of this project is provided through the Atmospheric Sciences Subactivity within the Geosciences (GEO) Activity. The expected operational lifespan is 25 years, pending the full integration of scientific instrumentation. A steady state of $3.0 million in operations support, excluding inflation, would occur about three years after MREFC funding is complete, funded through the R&RA Account.
NSF Support for HIAPER
(Millions of Dollars)
*Total funding required to complete this project is $81.50 million
FY 2002 milestones
IceCube Neutrino Detector Observatory
In 1999, the University of Wisconsin proposed a multi-year effort for IceCube, a neutrino detector observatory at the South Pole. NSF's FY 2002 appropriation included $15.0 million for research, design and development of the IceCube Neutrino Detection project. This one-year investment focuses on state-of-the art drill and electronics development and acquisition. In response, the University of Wisconsin is developing a one-year work plan for research and development activities and deliverables consistent with the appropriation of $15.0 million for IceCube.
OSTP will request that the National Academy of Sciences review the scientific merit of IceCube and other proposed U.S. neutrino collectors in the context of current and planned neutrino research capabilities throughout the world. This report will be completed in time to allow a decision whether to initiate construction of the IceCube construction project in FY 2004. If the decision is made to pursue construction of IceCube, the total cost of the project is estimated at over $240.0 million over a period of about eight years. Potential international partners may reduce the cost to NSF. The expected operational lifespan of this project is about 10 to15 years, and excluding inflation, the annual operations and management budget will be approximately $8.0 million, funded through the R&RA Account. Oversight of this project is provided through the Polar Programs Activity.
NSF Support for IceCube
(Millions of Dollars)
Prior to FY 2003, about $500,000 was provided through the R&RA Account to support for drill conceptual development and design, R&D on advanced data acquisition and analysis techniques, and development of interface electronics and associated software for digital detector electronics readout. IceCube builds on the work of the Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector (AMANDA), which demonstrated proof-of-principle.
Large Hadron Collider
The FY 2003 Budget Request includes $9.72 million to complete the NSF-supported portion of construction of two detectors for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) being constructed at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. These are ATLAS (A Toroidal Large Angle Spectrometer) and CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid). Total NSF funding for this project is $81.03 million over the period FY 1999-2003. Oversight of this project is provided through the Physics Subactivity within the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Activity.
The LHC facility will consist of a superconducting particle accelerator providing two counter-rotating beams of protons, each with energies up to 7 TeV (7x1012 electron volts). ATLAS and CMS, are being constructed to characterize the reaction products produced in the very high energy proton-proton collisions which will occur at intersection regions where the two beams collide. The LHC will enable a search for the Higgs particle, the discovery of which will be an important step in understanding of the origin of mass of the known elementary particles, and test the very successful Standard Model, which provides the existing framework for what is known about elementary particles and their interactions. The LHC will also enable a search for a new set of particles predicted by a powerful theoretical framework known as supersymmetry which will provide clues as to how the four known forces evolved from different aspects of the same "unified" force in the early universe.
Funding for the overall LHC project, including these two detectors and the accelerator, is being provided through an international partnership involving NSF, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the CERN member states, with CERN member states providing the major portion. Other countries that are not member states are also contributing. The total U.S. contribution will be $531.0 million, with $450.0 million from the DOE and $81.0 million from the NSF. NSF and DOE jointly provide a total contribution of $331.0 million for the detector construction, while DOE provides the sole U.S. contribution ($200.0 million) for the accelerator construction.
The NSF-supported components of ATLAS and CMS detectors are estimated to be completed in FY 2005, with the final year of appropriated construction funding in FY 2003. NSF has very recently learned that CERN is dealing with projected cost increases to complete the LHC. The project is looking for ways to reduce the cost to complete, and CERN management is working to address the identified cost increases and maintain the construction schedule. CERN's schedule for the machine currently remains unchanged; however, if there are further technical delays and/or if CERN is unable to secure additional funds, a schedule delay is likely.
The U.S. schedule progress is averaging at this time about ninety-three percent of the baseline plan, with milestones being completed in the anticipated years. U.S. cost performance has been excellent, with material contracts typically below estimates, and labor costs tracking close to plan. Project reviews and reports confirm that each project (ATLAS and CMS) has adequate contingency funding available.
From FY 1996 to FY 1999, NSF provided about $5.70 million through the R&RA Account to support technical design studies. The total NSF construction funding for LHC is $81.03 million. The estimated operational lifespan of this project is about 20 years, and excluding inflation, the NSF share of expected annual operations and management costs for LHC is approximately $21.0 million.
NSF Support For LHC
(Millions of Dollars)
* Includes an additional $150,000 provided through the
Major Milestones for the LHC are outlined below:
George E. Brown, Jr. Network For Earthquake Engineering Simulation
The FY 2003 request to continue construction of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) is $13.56 million. Total NSF MREFC funding for this project, including both the experimental facilities and the network, is $81.80 million over the period FY 2000-2004. An additional $1.10 million was spent on NEES by the EPSCoR program through the Education and Human Resources Account, bringing the total project cost for NEES to $82.90 million. Oversight of this project will be provided through the Civil and Mechanical Systems Subactivity within the Engineering (ENG) Activity in the Research and Related Activities Account.
The goal of NEES is to provide a national, networked collaboratory of geographically-distributed, shared use next-generation experimental research equipment sites, with teleobservation and teleoperation capabilities. NEES will transform the environment for earthquake engineering research and education through collaborative and integrated experimentation, computation, theory, databases, and model-based simulation to improve the seismic design and performance of U.S. civil and mechanical infrastructure systems. NEES includes three major components: the network system, the shared-use earthquake engineering research equipment, and the operating NEES Consortium. The NEES collaboratory will include approximately 20 equipment sites networked together through the high performance Internet. The network will provide access for telepresence at the NEES equipment sites and will use cutting-edge tools to link high performance computational and data storage facilities, including a curated repository for experimental and analytical earthquake engineering and related data. In addition, the network will provide distributed physical and numerical simulation capabilities and resources for visualization of experimental and computed data. With completion of the construction period in September 2004, the NEES collaboratory will enter its operational period from October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2014 and be managed by the NEES Consortium.
NEES will upgrade, modernize, expand, and network the nation's major earthquake engineering research facilities. A Phase 1 competition for NEES equipment in FY 2000 led to selection of 11 equipment sites at 10 institutions. Through a Phase 2 equipment competition in FY 2002, five to ten additional sites will be selected to complete the entire NEES earthquake engineering research equipment portfolio.
The NEES Consortium will provide the leadership, management, and coordination for the NEES collaboratory. The NEES Consortium will be formed by October 2003 by the NEES Consortium Development awardee, establishing a broad and integrated partnership that includes participation of the full membership of the earthquake engineering community. The NEES Consortium will operate the NEES collaboratory during FY 2005 - FY 2014, including implementing shared-use access policies for the NEES equipment and coordinating outreach and training activities for use of the NEES collaboratory, including the NEES equipment.
NSF Support for NEES
(Millions of Dollars)
* Includes an additional $1.10 million provided through the EPSCoR program in the EHR Account.
Funding for early planning, design and development of about $700,000 was provided through the R&RA Account from FY 1995 through FY 2001. In support of NSF's intent to foster linkages between the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and other NSF-supported activities, participation by EPSCoR states was specifically encouraged in the competition for research equipment. One institution from an EPSCoR state successfully competed, and the EPSCoR program provided $1.10 million in shared funding through the Education and Human Resources Account. The expected operational lifetime of NEES is about 10 years after construction is complete in FY 2004. Excluding inflation, the expected annual operations and management budget for NEES is about $8.0 million beginning in about FY 2006 and will be funded through the R&RA Account.
Milestones for the NEES are outlined below:
FY 2000 (accomplished):
FY 2001 (accomplished):
National Ecological Observatory Network
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is conceived as a continental-scale facility composed of 10 geographically distributed, networked observatories and will serve as a national platform for integrated field biology research. NEON will deploy new technologies to enable research across scales and levels of resolution that is now impossible. For the first time, scientists using NEON will be able to make simultaneous measurements of ecological phenomena in real-time at regional and continental scales. For example, NEON will allow researchers to determine the impact of regional extreme environmental events, e.g. forest fires, hurricanes, on ecosystem functions in surrounding regions and continent-wide. In addition, NEON will serve as a biological early detection system that will provide an invaluable resource and a front line of homeland defense - both for its scientific potential and for enabling rapid detection of chemical and biological terrorist threats. NSF is also exploring potential partnerships with other federal agencies.
In FY 2003, NSF is requesting $12.0 million to initiate a first phase of NEON. During this phase, NSF will establish two prototype NEON observatories which will demonstrate the feasibility of the NEON concept, focusing on: deploying field instrumentation; gathering environmental data from field based arrays; collecting data simultaneously from geographically distributed arrays; integrating data across diverse types of databases; and establishing an informatics infrastructure. The prototypes will also be used to optimize the functionality of the networked, multiscale, integrated infrastructure that will comprise a fully realized NEON.
A consortium of institutions, such as natural history collections, biological field stations, academic institutions, Long Term Ecological Research sites and federal research facilities will operate each prototype. Collectively, the two consortia will manage the prototypes as an integrated national research platform. The two prototype observatories will be selected via peer review. Each will be funded through a cooperative agreement to the lead member of the respective consortium.
Each prototype observatory will have scalable computation capabilities and will be networked via satellite and landlines to the vBNS, to each other, and to specialized facilities, such as supercomputer centers. By creating one virtual installation via a cutting-edge computational network, all members of the field biology research community will be able to access NEON remotely. This will facilitate the predictive modeling of biological systems via data sharing and synthesis efforts by users of the facility. It will also enhance interagency and international collaboration in field biology research.
The total construction cost for each prototype site will be $20.0 million, for a total of $40.0 million over the next 3 years. NSF will evaluate the success of NEON during this initial phase and together with input from the community decide on the eventual scope of the full NEON concept. NSF is also requesting $3.0 million beginning in FY 2003 through the Research and Related Activities Account to support the initial operation and management of these two sites. Oversight of this project is provided through the Biological Infrastructure Subactivity within the Biological Sciences (BIO) Activity.
NSF Support for NEON
(Millions of Dollars)
Prior to FY 2002, NSF provided about $210,000 through the R&RA Account to support workshops and other planning activities. The expected operational lifespan of these two initial sites is approximately 30 years. Excluding inflation, the anticipated annual operations and management budget, funded through R&RA, will be about $3 million per site per year, for a total of $6 million per year for the two prototype sites.
Major Milestones for NEON are outlined below:
South Pole Station
Because of its location on an ice sheet at Earth's axis of rotation, its altitude and cold dry atmosphere, six-month-long days and nights, and its remoteness from centers of human population, the station at the South Pole has important advantages for conducting world-leading science in areas such as infrared and submillimeter astronomy, the study of seismic and atmospheric waves, and research on long-term effects of human activities on the atmosphere.
The South Pole is of particular geopolitical significance due to its location at the convergence of the territorial claims of six of the Antarctic Treaty nations. NSF-supported activity achieves the foreign policy objective of maintaining U.S. presence in Antarctica, while providing an observatory for several fields of science. The scientific opportunities are unique as a result of the particular geophysical conditions at the South Pole.
The United States Antarctic Program (USAP) External Panel, convened in October 1996, examined infrastructure, management, and science options for USAP, including consideration of South Pole Station. The Panel noted that funds specifically appropriated in FY 1997 (South Pole Safety Project) would rectify the most extreme safety, health and environmental concerns at the South Pole, but did not address the underlying problems of aging facilities in a life-threatening environment. The Panel also stated that further life-extension efforts devoted to the existing South Pole facility were not cost effective, and recommended that the station be replaced. Based on this recommendation, the South Pole Station Modernization project was initiated.
The table below indicates the amounts appropriated for projects related to Polar logistics and science support.
NSF Support for Projects Related to Polar Logistics and Science Support
(Millions of Dollars)
Totals may not add due to rounding
South Pole Safety Project
Funding was provided in FY 1997 to address urgent and critical safety and environmental concerns at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. A total of $25.0 million was provided for improvements to the heavy equipment maintenance facility, the power plant, and the fuel storage facilities. The project was originally scheduled to be operational by FY 2002 and all of these facilities were conditionally accepted in FY 2001, with punchlist items being completed in FY 2002. An updated project estimate for the South Pole Safety Project was completed this year and resulted in a revised estimated cost to NSF of $25.50 million, or 2 percent over the original estimate. Funding the $500,000 increase will be provided by redirecting prior year funds from South Pole Station Modernization (SPSM).
South Pole Station Modernization
The goals of South Pole Station Modernization (SPSM) are to:
As originally approved, the new elevated station complex will support 110 people in the summer, and 50 people in the winter.
The SPSM estimate includes materials, labor, logistics for transportation of all material and personnel to the South Pole, construction support, inspection, and equipment. The location at the South Pole requires significant lead time for construction projects because of the long procurement cycle, the shipping constraints (one vessel per year to deliver materials), and the shortened period for construction at the South Pole (100 days per year). Construction began in FY 1999 with an original estimated completion date of FY 2005.
The original cost estimate for completing SPSM was $127.90 million. The new estimated cost to complete is $133.44 million, which includes an additional $2.52 million for a change in scope and $3.02 million for costs associated with a revised project schedule. NSF and the Administration are committed to providing funds to complete this project. At this time, NSF estimates that approximately $1.0 million will be requested in FY 2004; however, cost-to-complete estimates are continually being revised as the project continues. Future budget requests will include the funding necessary to complete SPSM, taking into account out-year impacts of extreme weather or other project changes on the current estimate.
The FY 2003 Budget Request includes $6.0 million in FY 2003 and $955,000 in FY 2004 for project costs associated with the following:
Millions of Dollars
Details on each component are included below.
Change in Scope
The station originally approved by the National Science Board in August 1995 had a capacity of 110 people. Recognizing the growing interest in science at the South Pole, and the population pressures, the Board also recommended that consideration be given to including support infrastructure and utilities for 150 people so that the station could more easily be expanded to support 150 people in the future should that need arise. These population pressures have been realized, and the current population, not including construction personnel for the South Pole Safety Project and SPSM, has grown to approximately 140 people. Without currently imposed science population constraints, the population would exceed 150.
Given the increased interest in the science community in using South Pole as a research platform, in areas ranging from astrophysics to atmospheric chemistry, biology and physics, there is now a need to expand the station to accommodate a larger number of scientists. As the station was designed to incorporate the base infrastructure needed to support 150 persons, the cost to add the extra 40 beds is modest. Moreover, implementing the full 150-person station design while the SPSM construction crews are still onsite would be highly cost effective because it would eliminate the need to reassemble the crews at a later date and because a considerable fraction of the expansion effort could proceed in parallel with SPSM construction without impacting the latter. This change of scope has received National Science Board approval. The cost of the increased scope is $2.52 million.
Recognizing that demands on the station continue to grow and could easily exceed even a station for 150, long-term strategies for the South Pole include providing high bandwidth capability around the clock, capable of supporting increased remote access to and control of instrumentation.
The FY 2001 season (November 2000 to mid-February 2001) was characterized by extremely poor weather, which caused many on-continent flights to be cancelled. One result was that 42 of the 119 flights allocated to the SPSM mission could not be completed. The 42-flight shortfall equates to approximately 1,095,000 pounds of construction cargo shortfall. Because of the cargo shortfall, construction activities that were to take place during the winter were reduced, and the project fell behind schedule.
NSF analyzed the project schedule to determine the feasibility of "catching up" and if it were not feasible, to determine a reasonable new schedule. Consideration was given to both the needs of the construction project and to those of the research programs - NSF's and those of other U.S. agencies. It was determined that attempting to maintain the original project completion date of FY 2005 would seriously impact research across the continent, already scaled back to free up logistical support for SPSM. A revised air logistics schedule for SPSM has been coordinated and prioritized with other future flight requirements for the USAP. The long-term air logistics plan assumes:
NSF tasked the U.S. Antarctic Program support contractor, Raytheon Polar Services, to review the project estimate and develop an interim estimate for cost-to-complete. The estimate includes all costs to date, outstanding labor and material costs, adjustments for inflation (including fuel), and adjustments to other indirect costs. The interim cost-to-complete estimate was prepared over an 8-month period and transmitted to NSF in August 2001. During that time the NSF project team reviewed each subproject three times and compared the estimated costs to actual material and labor costs for completed or on-going work at South Pole. All indirect costs such as contractor fees, contractor overhead and inflation were also reviewed and confirmed. NSF contracted with an independent IT engineer to review the cost estimates for the SPSM IT subprojects. The revised project schedule has resulted in an increased cost of $3.02 million.
The primary factors for the cost increase are the completion delay and increased fuel costs for air logistics. Four years of SPSM construction has been completed and approximately 42% of the original funding has been spent. Additional operating seasons will be needed before a definitive cost-to-complete estimate can be prepared and it can be determined whether or not existing contingencies will cover any additional required costs. Weather variability represents the principal source of uncertainty at this point in time. In fact, flights for the FY 2002 season (November 2001 to mid-February 2002) are already behind schedule - again due to extreme weather conditions. It is not possible to predict how many flights might be made up before the end of this season and the ultimate impact on the revised project cost and schedule.
The revised milestones for the project, taking into account the revised scope and changes in schedule, are below.
Payback of Reprogrammed Funds
In FY 2001, NSF received Congressional approval to reprogram up to $1.0 million from SPSM to another MREFC project, Polar Support Aircraft Upgrades, described in the next section. All redirected funds, to date $885,000 for the Polar Aircraft and $500,000 for the South Pole Safety Project, will be paid back over the period of FY 2003 and FY 2004.
Polar Support Aircraft Upgrades
Ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft are the backbone of the U.S. Antarctic Program's (USAP) air transport. LC-130s also support NSF's research in the Arctic. The Air National Guard (ANG) assumed operational control of all LC-130s, and since March 1999 has provided the sole LC-130 support to the USAP. The ANG has six LC-130s and also flies one recently acquired NSF-owned aircraft. Three additional NSF-owned LC-130s required upgrades and modifications to meet Air Force safety and operability standards.
A total of $32.0 million was appropriated for the upgrades in FY 1999 and FY 2000. This included funds for engineering, avionics, airframe, safety, propulsion, electronics and communications, equipment for black box installation, storage, and project administration. Additional funds of approximately $10 million provided through the R&RA Account supported early non-recurring engineering studies ($4.0 million) and routine upgrades and maintenance ($5.50 million) to realize cost savings while the aircraft were being reconfigured.
A competitive contract for the modifications was awarded by the Air Logistics Command at Robins Air Force Base (Warner Robins, Georgia) and is being administered by that organization. The first aircraft modification was scheduled to be completed in FY 2000, but was delayed. The original schedule for completion did not realistically account for the complexity of the modifications or for the difficulty in obtaining certain critical parts. The aircraft modification of the first aircraft was completed in February 2001. The 2nd and 3rd aircraft modifications were scheduled for completion in FY 2001 but are now expected to be completed by February 2002.
On March 19, 2001, NSF was notified by Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (WRALC) of a possible cost overrun for the project. Upon receiving the information on the possible overrun, NSF requested a detailed cost-to-complete analysis from WRALC. Because that office is responsible for all contracting and engineering oversight for all conversions of the Air Force's C-130 fleet, it has the oversight responsibility for the conversion of NSF's LC-130Rs.
The cost-to-complete to date is estimated at $32.885 million, or $885,000 over the original estimate. The costs increased primarily in two areas: technical publications and program management. Costs also increased because the original statement of work, based on WRALC estimates, did not include all necessary items for reconfiguring the aircraft. In order to fund the additional project costs and keep the project moving forward, NSF sought and received Congressional approval to reprogram up to $1.0 million from South Pole Station Modernization, another MREFC project, to the Polar Support Aircraft Upgrade project.
Until the project is actually complete, the costs could vary further. In particular, program management costs and costs for technical publications continue to be refined. However, because the project is nearing completion, significant changes in cost are unlikely at this point in time.
Terascale Computing Systems
This is the third year of the Terascale Computing Systems project. When complete it will provide U.S. researchers with access to leading edge computing capabilities. The project will be integrated into NSF's existing Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI), and will be coordinated with the activities of other agencies to leverage the software, tools, and technology of other federal investments. Oversight of this project is provided through the Advanced Computational Infrastructure and Research Subactivity within the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Activity.
The first award under Terascale Computing Systems was for $36.0 million in FY 2000 to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to build a 6 teraflop computer system, the Terascale Computing System (TCS). Construction was completed on September 29, 2001, and the system is expected to be ready for production allocations by April 2002. The system has provided extraordinary performance on benchmarks and selected application codes, significantly exceeding expectations. The system has been ranked either the number one or two supercomputer in the world by independent assessments of its capability.
The second competition was for a Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF) and resulted in an award of $44.90 million in FY 2001 to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of California San Diego for a collaborative project to build what is called the Teragrid. It will be a four site, distributed system with a peak performance of 11.6 teraflops, and an aggregate storage of 456 terabytes. This will be the first Grid enabled system - linking multiple computation sites by high performance networks to create a very high performance, distributed facility. The Teragrid will allow advanced data handling, interaction with remote sites, large scale storage (petabytes or a million billion characters of storage), and multi-gigabit per second networking, and is supportive of developing advanced CyberInfrastructure, which will integrate high performance computing, networks, data acquisition and storage, and visualization.
NSF has convened an Advisory Committee for CyberInfrastructure, which is formulating recommendations on the PACI program and the community needs for cyberinfrastructure. Initial comments from the committee agree on the need to advance toward a cyberinfrastructure. The NSF Advisory Committee for CyberInfrastructure is formulating recommendations for the future of the PACI program, and research community needs for advanced cyberinfrastructure (high performance computing, networking, storage and visualization facilities). Its report, which the Committee expects to provide by early summer, will help to guide future plans to consider upgrades and full integration of Terascale facilities with PACI.
The FY 2002 Current Plan includes $35.0 million for the third year of developing terascale computing. These funds will be used to enhance and augment the already funded terascale systems, investigate extending the Teragrid to more than the original four sites, and encourage data intensive sites to participate.
In FY 2003, $20.0 million is requested. These funds will enable connectivity to additional nodes providing computation, storage, visualization and other resources, and support upgrades of the Terascale Computing Systems.
NSF Support for the Terascale Computing Systems
(Millions of Dollars)
Milestones for the Terascale Computing Systems are outlined below:
|Last Modified: Sep 17, 2004|
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