WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement after the Senate approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2010:
“This bill offers a blueprint to move America’s civilian space program forward in a smart, fiscally responsible way,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “We’ve had to take a clear, hard look at what we want from NASA in the years and decades to come. We’ve asked the tough questions. The result is a truly bipartisan bill that will help refocus and reinvigorate the agency, while making key investments in aeronautics, science, and education. I’m proud the Senate has moved it one step closer to becoming law.”
Key Elements of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010:
- Authorization of Appropriations – Largely in-line with the President’s fiscal year 2011 budget request to Congress; the bill would authorize fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2013 appropriations for NASA.
- Science and Aeronautics – The bill protects a balanced portfolio for NASA, including full funding of aeronautics, Earth and space science, and education, as proposed by the President.
- Space Technology – Investments in technology and robotic capabilities are tied to mission-driven goals and support U.S. innovation and competitiveness.
- Education – The bill supports new education initiatives such as teacher training programs; and increases the investment in the NASA EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) and NASA Space Grant program.
- Human Space Flight – The bill couples efforts to national and global needs and challenges; provides a sustainable exploration program with new technologies and in-space capabilities; and future exploration builds off of the workforce, assets, and capabilities of the Space Shuttle and other efforts.
- Shuttle Retirement and final “Launch on Need” Mission – The bill authorizes one last Shuttle flight, based on an independent safety review, to provide necessary support for the extension of the International Space Station.
- International Space Station – The bill extends the Station to at least 2020, which is important for international and commercial collaboration and growth, research, and technology development; and maximizes the scientific return on the significant investment in the Station.
- Commercial Cargo and Crew – If the industry develops as envisioned, this should provide cheaper access to the International Space Station and relieve the U.S. reliance on Russian partners for access to the Station after the Shuttle retires; a strong focus on milestones will reduce risk and assure astronaut safety.