Another topic that Sen. Bill Nelson mentioned in his speech Thursday was a NASA authorization bill for 2009. The House version is waiting approval by the full House Science and Technology Committee after the space subcommittee approved the bill in a brief markup session on Tuesday. Nelson said the Senate is getting ready to mark up its version of the bill, working in close cooperation with both NASA and the House. (NASA administrator Mike Griffin, in his comments prior to Nelson’s speech, said the new authorization bill “extends and augments the good features” of the 2005 NASA authorization bill, “while as best as I can tell adding no bad features.”)
“We’re going to adopt in the Senate authorization bill a lot of the stuff they have come out in the House bill with,” Nelson said. The plan is to make the bills as similar as possible so it will be possible to reconcile them without a time-consuming conference committee. That way, “we can negotiate differences easily without having to have a formal conference committee.” Among the similarities in the Senate bill, he said, would be authorization for an additional shuttle flight to fly the AMS and other experiments to the station.