Jul 15 2010

SHELBY STATEMENT ON NASA AUTHORIZATION BILL

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Ranking Member on the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, issued the following statement regarding NASA authorization legislation approved today by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee:  

“This proposed authorization bill provides a significant new direction for NASA,” said Shelby.  “It wisely rejects the Administration’s outright cancellation of NASA’s human space flight program, and instead provides a clear path forward for the agency’s exploration program.  While this authorization bill is a good first step in the legislative process, it is important to note that the Appropriations Committee will determine the ultimate outcome.  As the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee of jurisdiction, I will continue to work diligently with my colleagues to craft and enact a rational plan that maintains American leadership and superiority in space exploration.”  


Background
•The legislation maintains $19 billion in total funding for NASA in fiscal year 2011, with modest growth in years thereafter.
•The bill provides a NASA led capability to reach the International Space Station and continue NASA’s human space flight program.
•Over 3 years, the legislation provides $7.15 billion for development of a new Space Launch System as a follow on to the Space Shuttle, capable of supporting both International Space Station and deep space exploration missions. It is anticipated that Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) will play a significant role in the design and development of the evolvable heavy lift vehicle.  The common core developed for the evolvable heavy lift vehicle must be operational no later than December 31, 2016.
•Over 3 years, the legislation provides $244 million for Robotic Precursor Missions.  This funding will provide an avenue for MSFC to become more involved in developing exploration and science missions and augment the expertise they have in developing rockets and system integration. The Exploration and Lunar precursor robotics programs are a critical element of the space agency's exploration programs and MSFC was named the program manager for Lunar Precursor Robotic Program in 2006.  NASA has also announced that MSFC will run the Exploration Robotic Precursor Program Office proposed in the FY11 budget.  MSFC won a lunar precursor mission, the International Lunar Network, in 2005.
•Over 3 years, the legislation provides over $2.1 billion for a combination of Exploration and Space Technology Development.  This provides the balance of research and technology investment where researchers from across the country, including those at MSFC, will be able to bring their cutting edge ideas to maturity.