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Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Approves NASA Authorization Act

Press Release From: Sen. Hutchison
Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Includes Amendment Introduced by Sen. Hutchison to Maintain U.S. Access to Space

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation today passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2004. The legislation includes an amendment authored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) that requires the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to prepare a plan for operating the Space Shuttle until the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is ready for flight.

Sen. Hutchison offered the amendment to close a gap in the legislation between the shuttle's planned retirement in 2010, the year NASA expects to complete the space station, and the scheduled operation of the new CEV in 2014. Although the bill ensures the shuttle will fly until the International Space Station (ISS) is finished, the U.S. could be without the capacity to service the space station for a significant period, especially if setbacks occur in the development of CEV. Without either the Space Shuttle or the CEV to transport astronauts and supplies to and from the orbiting laboratory, the safety of the crew and viability of the scientific research could be in serious jeopardy.

The amendment directs NASA to create a plan to operate the Space Shuttle if the CEV is not ready to take over the shuttle's responsibilities once the space station is complete. NASA is also instructed to inform Congress of the costs and scheduling requirements related to shuttle operations, enabling it to continue flying for at least one year after the CEV's first successful manned mission.

"The president's vision will lead our nation to major advancements in the fields of science and technology. As Lewis and Clark explored the West, we must take the next step in exploring our solar system and beyond. This amendment will help NASA maintain a servicing vehicle for the space station, ensuring a smooth transition between the shuttle and the CEV," said Sen. Hutchison, a member of the Senate Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee.  

The legislation will now be sent to the full Senate for a final vote.

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