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President Signs NASA Transition Authorization Act

Status Report From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Today President Donald Trump signed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 into law. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation reaffirms Congress’ commitment to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and space science and exploration.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “With President Trump’s signature on the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, we put America back on a path to being a global leader in space.  The last NASA authorization expired in 2013, and my colleagues and I have been hard at work to ensure a more robust and well-planned human exploration program. This bill directs NASA to pursue a balanced portfolio of space science and planetary missions and also looks to the future of scientific exploration and commerce while building upon the awe-inspiring discoveries of NASA’s past. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate who worked to develop this important bill that will inspire the American people again.  NASA is emblematic of the president’s ‘America First’ agenda as it is the first authorization bill he has signed into law.”

Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas): “This is an exciting day for America as we have now entered the next chapter of human space exploration.  With universal backing in Congress and President Trump’s signature, the NASA Transition Authorization Act puts the United States on a clear path forward by providing certainty and long-term stability to NASA and America’s human space flight programs.  I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues in Congress and the leadership of President Trump in advancing this bipartisan effort to further America’s leadership in space.  I am also pleased to note the inclusion of the TREAT Astronauts Act, legislation that I introduced to ensure that our nation’s astronauts receive support for medical issues associated with their service while also advancing research in long-term space missions.”

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas): “Ensuring we have a space program that can explore new frontiers is crucial to American leadership in space exploration. I am proud to see the NASA reauthorization bill pass through Congress and come to the President’s desk so NASA can continue their work. I believe this NASA reauthorization bill is vital to map out the blueprint for the future of American space exploration.”

Background

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 authorizes the House’s proposed Fiscal Year 2017 funding level of $19.5 billion. The bill maintains support for the James Webb Space Telescope, the Space Launch System, the Orion crew vehicle, the International Space Station, and the commercial crew and cargo programs.  Maintaining constancy of purpose for NASA was a recommendation from a recent National Research Council report, recent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel reports, and numerous other independent groups. Ensuring continued progress on national level programs like SLS and Orion will ensure that the U.S. continues to push the boundaries of space exploration.  Full support for the commercial crew program makes progress towards once again launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.  The bill also makes the determination that the technological and scientific goals of the Asteroid Redirect Mission have not been demonstrated, and requires a report on alternatives to demonstrate the technologies needed for a human mission to Mars. 

The NASA Transition Authorization Act also supports NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, as well as direction for a mission to Europa. The law amends the SPACE Act of 1958 by adding to NASA’s charter the direction to “search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe,” clearing the way for NASA to advance the state of astrobiology.  It directs the NASA administrator to seek reimbursement whenever responsibilities are transferred to NASA from another agency or when NASA funds another agency’s activities. It also includes the TREAT Astronauts Act, which gives NASA the ability to care for our astronauts and enhance our understanding of the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

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