Chair Cantwell Statement on Commerce Committee Passage of The Endless Frontier Act, NASA Reauthorization

May 13, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation yesterday held an executive session that included passage of the “Endless Frontier Act,” NASA’s reauthorization as well as other important bills and nominees. Chair Cantwell released the following statement hailing the productive, bipartisan session:

“America is at our best when we are innovating, competing and exploring,” Chair Cantwell said. “This week’s Commerce Committee markup represented a major step towards building the R&D infrastructure we need to seize the promise of an Information Age. We passed the Endless Frontier Act with a big bipartisan vote—a huge boost to our innovation ecosystem that will help us keep pace with our competitors. We also set important policy for NASA, while authorizing the resources needed to protect against programmatic risks and make sure our missions are safe and successful.”

Below are some highlights of the NASA reauthorization:

  1. Extend operations of the International Space Station (“ISS”) to 2030.  Currently ISS is authorized to operate until 2024.

  2. Authorize the Artemis Program, including the Human Lander System. The legislation would explicitly authorize the Human Lander System program at $10.032 billion and require that NASA maintain competition by funding at least two commercial capabilities.

  3. Accelerate Development of the Space Launch System’s (“SLS”) Exploration Upper Stage (“EUS”).   The SLS with EUS will be the most powerful rocket ever built.

  4. Authorize a Series of Aeronautics Projects.  NASA aeronautics precompetitive research and development has helped the domestic aviation industry stay competitive.  The legislation would authorize a series of X-plane demonstrators that will focus on energy efficiency, developing a low-boom supersonic aircraft, and more.  The legislation also authorizes an advanced materials and manufacturing technology program, which includes composite materials. 

  5. Establish a Skilled Technical Education Outreach Program.  The bill would direct NASA to create a skilled technical education outreach program to expose K-12 students to skilled technical occupations at NASA centers.

  6. Extend NASA’s Enhanced Use Leasing (“EUL”) Authority. This bill would extend NASA’s EUL authority for five years.  EUL allows NASA to lease underutilized real estate they own to industry, including launch pads.