Committee Leaders Announce Bipartisan NASA Bill

This bill balances our long-term goal of sending humans to Mars with immediate needs of providing for astronauts.

Members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today announced details of the NASA Authorization Act of 2015, legislation intended to reaffirm Congress’s commitment to NASA as a multi mission agency with programs in science, aeronautics, exploration, and human spaceflight, and make clear that Mars should be NASA’s primary goal. The bill will be introduced in the House this week. 

For more than 50 years, NASA has made the impossible possible and taken humankind to places we never before dreamed we would go. NASA is the only agency that exists to support our nation’s space exploration and advancement. In Congress, we have the responsibility of ensuring that NASA has the resources and direction it needs to continue its mission for the next 50 years.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2015 maintains sustainability of purpose and budget for NASA’s programs. It balances our long-term goal of sending humans to Mars and the furthest reaches of our solar system, with the immediate needs of providing access for our astronauts to the International Space Station. It ensures NASA remains the world’s premiere space agency.

In the last Congress, this bill was approved unanimously by the House Science Committee and passed in the House by a vote of 401-2. The strong support this bill has enjoyed reflects the American public’s strong interest in our nation’s space endeavors. Next week, the House will have an opportunity to once more reaffirm its commitment to our nation’s space programs.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2015 authorizes funding consistent with the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2015. The bill continues the consistent guidance Congress has given to NASA for nearly a decade by reaffirming a stepping stone approach to exploration. The bill focuses NASA’s efforts to develop a capability to access the International Space Station so that America can once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. It also increases support for the Space Launch System and the Orion Crew Vehicle – systems being developed to take astronauts to deep-space destinations like Mars – in an attempt to keep the programs on schedule for a 2017 launch date.

“Building on previous NASA Authorization Acts, this bipartisan legislation affirms NASA’s responsibility to be a multi-mission agency, one that includes productive programs in science, aeronautics, human spaceflight and human exploration," said Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). "NASA is a crown jewel of our nation’s R&D enterprise. NASA’s space and aeronautics programs advance our technological competence and scientific understanding, challenge our industries and workforces in ways that promote their global competitiveness, and inspire the next generation to dream big and gain the skills to turn those dreams into action. That last point cannot be overstated, our children are our future science and technology workforce. They need to be prepared. This NASA bill is the product of intense bipartisan collaboration over the past year, and I am proud to be a cosponsor.”

“I am pleased that the House will take up and consider a widely-supported, bipartisan NASA Reauthorization bill so early in this year’s session," said Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.). "It shows that once again the House is willing to lead on sustaining our nation’s space program. Congress has once again demonstrated support for SLS and Orion. While last year’s bill, like so many other pieces of legislation, died in the Senate, I look forward to working with Chairman Ted Cruz and Senate leadership to get this year’s version over the finish line. It’s time we finally returned to being able to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.”

“NASA continues to inspire and is a testament to the innovative American spirit. This bipartisan legislation, crafted during the last Congress and passed overwhelmingly by the House, has been updated and provides NASA with important, timely policy direction to carry out its missions in aeronautics, science, and human exploration," Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-Md.) said. "This legislation sets the long-term goal for NASA’s human exploration program of sending humans to the surface of Mars and directs NASA to provide a Human Exploration Roadmap outlining the capabilities and milestones required to achieve the goal. NASA needs this direction now to provide the stability that will enable maximum progress on its programs. I want to thank Subcommittee Chairman Palazzo, Chairman Smith, and Ranking Member Johnson for building on this bipartisan effort as we develop a comprehensive, multi-year authorization for NASA to sustain its important missions over the coming years.”

Space Subcommittee Vice-Chair Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said, “I’m proud to join my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to introduce the NASA Authorization Act of 2015, which is critical for the continued development and operations of America’s space program. This bill is another step forward for NASA, strongly supporting human space exploration and groundbreaking scientific missions and research, while promoting our nation’s leadership in space. I look forward to working with Chairman Smith and Space Subcommittee Chairman Palazzo as this bill proceeds to the House floor and enactment.”

The bill also supports a healthy science directorate that reflects the input from the scientific community and an aeronautics research directorate that contributes to our nation’s aerospace economy.

More details on the bill can be found here.

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