Overall Mission: The bill charges NASA with carrying out a balanced set of programs including programs in human space flight, aeronautics research and development, and scientific research including space and earth science. It encourages NASA to work with entrepreneurs and to involve other nations to the extent appropriate.
Vision for Space Exploration: The bill directs NASA to return Americans to the Moon no later than 2020, launch a Crew Exploration Vehicle as close to 2010 as possible, and conduct research on the impacts of space on the human body to enable long-duration space exploration. The bill directs NASA to retire the Shuttle at the end of 2010.
New Policies and Plans: The bill requires the Administration to develop policies and plans to guide NASA's efforts in missions other than human space flight and in managing its facilities and workforce:
Transparency in Program Management: The bill provides incentives for good program management by requiring annual reporting on programs costing over $100 million and initiating reviews of any such program that experiences large cost overruns or schedule delays.
Prizes: Gives NASA the authority to conduct competitions for cash prizes, modeled after the X-Prize won last year by famed airplane designer Burt Rutan and his SpaceShipOne, to stimulate innovative technology development.
Reports: The bill requires NASA to report to Congress on its plans in a number of areas, including its strategy for sending humans to the Moon, the costs of the Crew Exploration Vehicle, a plan for updating the U.S.'s system of space communications and navigation satellites, and a plan for helping NASA's Shuttle workforce make the transition to other jobs.
Miscellaneous Provisions: The bill includes several miscellaneous provisions, including an extension of NASA's indemnification authority, programs addressing near-Earth asteroids and comets, and a requirement for better coordination between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on earth science missions.
Funding: The bill authorizes to be appropriated to NASA $16,471,050,000 for fiscal year 2006, the same amount provided in the House Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Bill for FY 2005, or approximately $15 million above the President's FY 2006 request.
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