Congress, NASA, White House

House approves NASA authorization bill

The House Saturday afternoon approved by voice vote the Senate version of HR 6063, the NASA authorization bill for fiscal year 2009 that the Senate passed Thursday night.

The House Science and Technology Committee press release about the bill linked to above mentions a couple of key differences between this final version and the version the House overwhelmingly approved in June. Among them is a prohibition against NASA taking any steps before the end of April 2009 “that would preclude the President from being able to continue to fly the Space Shuttle past 2010 if he and Congress decided to do so.” This is similar to what John McCain and two other senators requested of the administration last month, with the difference being that they asked for a one-year delay, while this is closer to seven months.

Another difference: the final version does not contain a provision in the original House version that would have directed the Office of Science and Technology Policy to carry out a study of the effect of current export control policies on civil and commercial space efforts. Committee chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), in the committee statement, said he was “disappointed” the provision was dropped, but provided no details why it was excluded from the final version of the bill. “But I believe that there is likely to be movement on this important issue once the next Administration takes office,” he added.

The bill now goes to the White House for the president’s signature. Will he sign it? Recall back in June that the Office of Management and Budget issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) strongly critical of the House version of the bill, in particular citing clauses that made two “contingency” shuttle logistical flights part of the manifest (although, in fact, they pretty much already were), as well as an additional mission to fly the AMS instrument to the station. Those provisions remain in the final version of the bill; however, while the SAP stated that the administration “strongly opposed” the bill, it did not overtly threaten a veto.

7 comments to House approves NASA authorization bill

  • Valdis

    Good move. Very smart. NASA have to minimized gap in manned space programm and must be maximal independent from any “international partner” in such nationally important field of activities as manned space flight. Two factors accelerated this absolutely nescessary, imho, decission: first, Russia’s aggression in Caucasus, with consequenties as for internatonal behaviour of the evil empire; second, last success of taikonauts.
    Goodspeed, NASA!

  • joe

    It’s nothing without a corresponding appropriation a half year away. Also, I wouldn’t trust NASA with more money after the Ares mess. I actually wish they’d take away some and spend it on something more useful.

  • sc220

    Time to seriously reassess NASA’s mission. With the successful launch into orbit of Falcon I, the COTS approach may be the best course to emphasize. Certainly, it is high time to terminate the Ares boondoggle and adopt a more doable approach.

  • anon

    One launch success launch out of 4 is not enough to base a policy on. Anyways, Boeing, OSC and LM have been doing it for years, why was that enough impetus for changes?

  • Vladislaw

    I think the arguement will be that he did it on his own dime rather then the 3 billion the government contractors got to develop theirs?

  • anon

    LM and Boeing only got 500 million apiece for EELV development. Anyways, Musk is going to get 250 million from NASA

  • Musk is going to get 250 million from NASA

    Elon Musk won an AWARD, in the form of a SPACE ACT AGREEMENT.

    Did you write a COTS proposal? Are you building a rocket? You know what would be great? It would be great if you quit bitching across multiple space forums about Elon Musk winning an award for services that the United States government and NASA demonstrably cannot provide, and start offering something constructive to the dialogue. Anything. Even reading up on what a space act agreement is, and why the United States goverment is offering them would be a constructive start, I suppose we can’t expect to actually get any kind of position paper or a real rocket design out of you.

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