U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, today issued the following statement in response to passage of legislation by the House of Representatives that authorizes NASA’s human space flight program. The NASA authorization bill will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.
“The NASA Authorization bill rejects the Administration’s reckless cancellation of NASA’s human space flight program and provides a framework to continue NASA’s exploration program.
“I am encouraged that the bill outlines a NASA-designed heavy lift rocket capability and continues Huntsville’s leadership role in NASA’s human exploration efforts. Given the ongoing struggles of up-and-coming space companies to keep their contracted schedules, the bill provides some level of accountability and a defined threshold for safety. With the passage of the NASA Authorization bill, it is clear Congress understands that bravado does not necessarily make a rocket company viable.
“However, the bill is not a perfect strategy. I remain concerned with the limiting direction set forth on the heavy lift rocket’s design. NASA must not deliver a rocket that is simply a shuttle without wings. This would not represent a step forward for innovation or for the future of our space program.
“It is important to note that the Authorization bill’s passage is only a step in the legislative process and 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 pass a reasonable plan that maintains American leadership and superiority in space exploration.”