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Congress Puts NASA Bill on Tast Track to the White House

Press Release From: House Science Committee Republicans
Posted: Saturday, September 27, 2008

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - With unanimous 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). H.R. 6063 initially passed the House on June 18, 2008 by a vote of 409 to 15 and was brought back to the House today, after passing the Senate with minor modifications. The bill will now be sent to the White House for the President's approval.

A strong supporter of NASA, Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) praised the bill saying, "This year marks the 50th anniversary of the NASA. It is a good time to reflect on how far our nation has come in a half-century, but it is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to space flight and innovation."

H.R. 6063 keeps NASA on its current path toward completing the International Space Station, transitioning from the Space Shuttle to the new Constellation launch systems, and maintaining a balanced set of science and aeronautics research programs. The bill authorizes $20.2 billion for NASA for FY09--including $1 billion to accelerate development of the Constellation systems. The Constellation system, consisting of the Orion crew exploration vehicle and Ares launch vehicles, will provide our country with a modern, more robust, and safer manned spaceflight capability that will enable our astronauts to fly out of Low Earth orbit, an ability we haven't had since the retirement of Apollo over 30 years ago.

Hall continued, "I am pleased that this bill authorizes extra funding for a new launch system, thereby taking a step towards closing the gap in U.S. spaceflight capability, and reducing our dependence on foreign partners. At this moment, China has three men in orbit, having just completed a space walk earlier today. China is fast accelerating their space capabilities, and if the U.S. is to remain the leader in space exploration, we must continue to innovate and accelerate our programs. We should all be proud of what our nation has accomplished in the last half century, and we should boldly push forward with excitement, support, and anticipation for what the next 50 years holds. I am convinced that our greatest accomplishments lie in the frontiers ahead."

Further, H.R. 6063 directs NASA to fly two contingency Shuttle missions to help ensure the safety and long-term viability of the International Space Station, 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 Senate version of the bill added language that directs NASA to suspend any activities between now and April 30, 2009 that could preclude operation of the Space Shuttle after 2010. This will provide an opportunity to the incoming Presidential Administration to evaluate the Space Shuttle's retirement.

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