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House Passes H.R. 6063 to Reauthorize Wide Array of NASA Programs

Press Release From: House Science Committee Republicans
Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2008

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - With broad support, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 6063, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, authorizing programs at NASA for fiscal year 2009 (FY09). The bill passed the House by a vote of 409 to 15.

"This bill is meant to reaffirm Congress' unwavering support for NASA, so as to remove any doubt the next Administration may have about Congress' commitment to NASA's programs and policies," said Science and Technology Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX). "But by being a one-year bill, it is also designed to not tie the hands of the next Administration to a long-term strategy. To the contrary, H.R. 6063 is designed to give the next President an opportunity to work with the next Congress to fashion a long-term strategy that is consistent with the Administration's desires, as well as Congress'."

H.R. 6063 authorizes $20.21 billion in funding, which includes $1 billion in additional funding to accelerate development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV). The Constellation system, which includes development of both the CEV and CLV, will provide our country with a modern, more robust, and safer manned spaceflight capability that will enable U.S. astronauts to fly beyond low earth orbit, an ability NASA has not had since the retirement of Apollo over 30 years ago. The bill also provides for a balanced set of programs in human spaceflight and exploration, aeronautics research and development, and space science research.

One of the bill's cosponsors, Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Feeney (R-FL) said, "Considerable care has been devoted to all elements of NASA's portfolio -- human spaceflight, earth and space sciences, and aeronautics. I look forward to continued success and excellence in all of these endeavors because each success sustains America's technical prowess and brings great prestige to the American people."

H.R. 6063 also directs NASA to include two contingency missions to the International Space Station (ISS) to be part of the baseline shuttle flight manifest, and adds an additional flight to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the ISS. The AMS is an experiment managed by the Department of Energy to study charged particles in Cosmic rays before they are absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere.

The AMS, once installed on the ISS will be the first experiment capable of accurately measuring charged cosmic rays, and is expected to increase scientists' fundamental understanding of dark matter which makes up ~20 percent of the universe. NASA agreed in 1995 to fly the AMS to the Space Station, but the mission was subsequently dropped after the Columbia accident, when NASA decided to retire the Shuttle upon completion of the ISS. Approximately $1.6 billion has been spent on the AMS thus far, and has been an international collaboration of 16 countries, 57 institutes and 500 physicists. The AMS is substantially complete and ready to fly.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of NASA and the dawn of the U.S. space program. The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 provided policy and programmatic guidance for NASA, and the bipartisan bill passed today reaffirms congressional priorities and policies.

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