(Washington, DC) - Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics unanimously passed HR 6063, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 without amendment. Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced the bill to reauthorize the programs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Fiscal Year 2009. Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Feeney (R-FL) were original cosponsors of the legislation.
"America's space and aeronautics programs deliver significant benefits to the American people," said Udall. "It's important that NASA has the resources it needs to be successful in addressing our country's important national needs. I will continue to work with NASA on these goals, while ensuring that we are accountable and good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars. This bill not only ensures that we invest adequately in NASA's programs but, equally importantly, directs those investments in ways that are effective, efficient and fiscally responsible."
"This is a common sense, fiscally responsible bill that will set NASA on a good course for the future," said Subcommittee Vice Chairman Charlie Melancon (D-LA). "HR 6063 ensures that NASA's centers are healthy and capable of supporting the agency's challenging missions."
The NASA Authorization Act of 2008 establishes a role for NASA in leading a cooperative international effort on Earth observations research and applications, especially with respect to climate change. It builds on the recommendations of the National Academies' Earth Sciences and Applications decadal survey and provides a challenging agenda for NASA to pursue to learn about the causes and impacts of climate change as well as other Earth system phenomena. The agenda will also maximize the opportunities for applying those research results to meet societal needs.
NASA's aeronautics research program impacts both public safety and our national economy, and H.R. 6063 provides guidance to ensure that that aeronautics program will regain its former health and focus. For example, the legislation includes enhanced funding for aeronautics, but it makes clear that the additional funding is to be used to take NASA's aeronautics research activities to the point that the results can be transitioned to the commercial, as well as public, sectors. One key public-sector application is NextGen, the interagency initiative to develop the next generation air transportation system for the nation.
Udall added, "NextGen needs to succeed to ensure safer and more efficient air travel system for our economy and the flying public, and this bill will help ensure that NASA plays a meaningful role in the NextGen initiative. In addition, it focuses attention and resources on research and development to make sure that the aircraft of the future leaves as small an impact on the environment as possible, whether that impact is noise, energy consumption, or harmful emissions."
Finally, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 recognizes that America's human space flight activities are not, and should not, be an end unto themselves. H.R. 6063 includes provisions to ensure that the International Space Station--a unique orbiting R&D facility that represents a significant investment of resources by both American citizens and those of a host of other nations--will be utilized in as productive manner as possible. The NASA Authorization Act of 2008 also makes clear that any long-term human exploration initiative should be undertaken as a cooperative international undertaking under U.S. leadership.
"Nations around the world are getting interested in space exploration. I'm not interested in rerunning a space race," said Udall. "Instead, I want to leverage the emerging global interest to promote a peaceful, cooperative approach to space exploration under strong American leadership. This bill helps point us in that direction."
More information about this markup, please visit the Committee's website.