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United States Government Space Budget

U.S. Research and Development Funding


2015 – RDT&E and IR&D funding

Independent Research and Development (IR&D) refers to a contractor’s own investment in research and development studies into promising technologies of potential interest to government or commercial customers. Companies can recover a portion of these costs as overhead on current government contracts. In 2015, IR&D spending was estimated to be $165 million.

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2014 – RDT&E and IR&D funding Snapshot

In a different category of support for space infrastructure, the U.S. government provides funding for the development of materials, equipment, and software through Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) budgets appropriated for each military service (Army, Navy, and Air Force) and other defense agencies. When RDT&E programs reach specific goals, they are moved from RDT&E funding to other funds allocated for operations and maintenance. Contractors conducting RDT&E activities for the services and agencies received an average annual appropriation of $## billion (adjusted for inflation) from 2004 to 2014, with ##% of that total allocated to space-related programs. Of the $## billion in RDT&E funding disbursed in 2014, less than ##% was dedicated to space-related programs.

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2012 – RDT&E and IR&D funding

Independent research and development (IR&D), another infrastructure support industry, covers research and development activities initiated and funded by defense contractors independent of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Space-related IR&D is estimated by applying the percentage of space R&D versus total DoD R&D to the total amount of all IR&D spending according to the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Space IR&D spending was estimated at $## million in 2012, a slight decrease from the $## million estimated for 2011. This decrease stems from declines in both government-funded space R&D and the overall level of IR&D as tracked by the DoD. 

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2007 – RDT&E and IR&D funding

Total independent research and development (IR&D) expenditures are estimated at $## million for 2006, the latest year data was available from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. IR&D expenditures are private enterprise research and development costs incurred while working on government contracts but not reimbursed by the government. These expenditures are estimated by calculating the ratio of space R&D to total R&D within the Defense Department.

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2005 – RDT&E and IR&D funding

Independent Research and Development (IR&D) costs are estimated at $## billion, half of which was retroactively funded by the DoD. Assuming that the proportion of aerospace IR&D to space IR&D is the same as the proportion of aerospace research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) ($## billion) and space RDT&E ($## billion), the IR&D covered by corporations is about $## million.

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