Congress Could Authorize $20.2 Billion For NASA Programs
Congress could soon provide NASA with its largest authorization since 1968; the year before man landed on the moon. The increase in funding comes as NASA celebrates its 50th Anniversary and looks to the next phase of human space exploration.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, H.R. 6063, authorizes $20.2 billion in funding for NASA in FY2009. This includes $19.2 billion for NASA programs in science, aeronautics, exploration, and education. The additional $1 billion in the authorization will accelerate the development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV), which will replace the Space Shuttle.
H.R. 6063 also adds an additional Space Shuttle flight to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station (ISS). The delivery of AMS will fulfill international obligations and provide scientific data that will enable the United States to safely explore beyond low-earth orbit.
The Shuttle will be retired in 2010 and the CEV/CLV is currently not expected to be completed until 2015. The $1 billion in augmented funding will help close this gap, during which the U.S. will be reliant on other countries or commercial services (if they are available) for transportation to the International Space Station.
H.R. 6063 will also authorize the small business outreach and technical assistance program. This provides free technical assistance from NASA and its partners to help small businesses who cannot afford to have a rocket scientist or engineer on the payroll.
NASA is the nation’s primary civil space and aeronautics R&D agency, its current civil service workforce consists of approximately 18,400 employees. Without this legislation, NASA’s authorization would expire on Sept. 30.