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Draft House NASA Authorization Bill Would Create 6-Year Term for NASA Administrator, No Funds for ARM

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 17-Jun-2013
Updated: 08-Jul-2013 08:52 PM

The draft NASA Authorization Act of 2013 penned by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee would make the NASA Administrator a 6-year term appointment and authorize no funds for the proposed Asteroid Return Mission (ARM).  A hearing on the draft bill is scheduled for Wednesday.

According to a one-page summary of the draft bill obtained by SpacePolicyOnline.com, its provisions include the following:

  • Authorizes $16,865,200,000, which is "consistent with the Budget Control Act and FY2013 appropriations."  If Congress replaces or repeals the Budget Control Act (which created the sequester) then funding would be added for the International Space Station (ISS), Space Launch System (SLS), and Commercial Crew.
  • Human Spaceflight
    • Makes clear that missions to lunar orbit, the surface of the Moon, and Mars are NASA's human spaceflight goals. 
      • No funding for the Asteroid Rendezvous Mission [alternately called the Asteroid Return Mission or Asteroid Retrieval Mission]
      • NASA to study feasibility of extending ISS beyond 2020
      • OSTP to lead a strategic plan for ISS utilization by "all science agencies"
      • Continued commitment to SLS/Orion; reiterates that Orion is a backup to commercial crew for ISS
  • Science
    • Reduces Earth Science to 2008 levels to provide better balance for planetary science programs
    • Maintains 2018 launch date for James Webb Space Telescope
    • Funds survey for potentially hazardous Earth-crossing asteroids
    • Continues search for planets around other stars and life on other worlds
  • Aeronautics
    • States the importance of a robust aeronautics research program
  • STEM Education
    • States there is bipartisan agreement that the Administration's STEM reorganization plan is "questionable" and maintains the current organization and funding level
  • Leadership
    • Makes the position of NASA Administrator a 6-year term appointment like NSF Director. 
    • Restructures the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) to provide more stakeholder input, with appointments by both Congress and the President
  • Space Act Agreements
    • Provides for greater public accountability and transparency
  • Controlling Costs
    • Requires NASA to enforce more cost estimating discipline while restoring funds set aside for contract termination liability toward development work on high-priority programs

Wednesday's hearing, at 10:00 am in 2318 Rayburn, features NAC chairman Steve Squyres and retired industry executive Tom Young.

NASA is holding a half-day public forum tomorrow to talk about its proposed Asteroid Return Mission.  It is from 9:15 am - 12:00 pm in the auditorium at NASA Headquarters and will be streamed online; viewing options will be posted at www.nasa.gov/asteroid

Correction:  An earlier version of this article mistakenly said the authorized amount was $16.825 billion instead of $16.865 billion.


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