Space Foundation Applauds NASA Bill Passage
The Space Foundation has expressed its approval of the Sept. 29 passage of FY2011 NASA Authorization, S. 3729, by the House of Representatives. The bill is a Senate-enacted roadmap that establishes a clear path forward for the nation's space agency.
"America's civil space program has been in costly and divisive turmoil since Congress received the President's FY11 budget proposal," said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. "Although the Senate-crafted direction for NASA is an imperfect compromise, its passage, with the President expected to sign the bill into law, should help stabilize the space agency and industry for the near term.
"Some form of compromise had to be found," Pulham said, "or U.S. leadership in space exploration would have been in jeopardy. NASA has always enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Congress, and it's gratifying to see that Congress continues to view NASA as an important investment in the nation's future."
The Space Foundation said that several provisions of the authorization were crucially important, including extended funding for the International Space Station (ISS), continued development of a crew vehicle to replace the retiring Space Shuttle fleet and development of a human-rated heavy lift launcher to enable exploration of space beyond low Earth orbit. Continued support for the emerging commercial human spaceflight and cargo transportation industry was also important, the Foundation said.
Key Elements of the Bill
According to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which drafted the bill, the key elements of the bill are:
- Authorization of Appropriations - Largely in line with the President's fiscal year 2011 budget request; the bill authorizes appropriations for NASA for fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2013.
- Science and Aeronautics - The bill calls for a NASA portfolio that includes aeronautics, Earth and space science and education, as proposed by the President.
- Space Technology - The bill covers investments in technology and robotic capabilities.
- Human Space Flight - The bill includes a sustainable exploration program with new technologies and in-space capabilities; building future exploration off the workforce, assets and capabilities of the Space Shuttle and other efforts.
- Space Shuttle Retirement and final "Launch on Need" Mission - The bill authorizes one final Space Shuttle flight, based on an independent safety review, to provide necessary support for the extension of the ISS.
- ISS - The bill extends the ISS to at least 2020.
- Commercial Cargo and Crew - The bill shifts focus to commercial crew and cargo services, with the goal of providing cheaper access to the ISS and reducing U.S. reliance on Russia for access to the ISS after the Space Shuttle retires.
Congressional appropriators are expected to fund the new policies at some point after they return from the 2010 mid-term elections in November.