FAA Space Office Fares Better in Senate Appropriations Bill for FY2015
The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) gets its full FY2015 request of $16.605 million in the Senate Appropriations Committee's version of the FY2015 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill. By comparison, the House committee approved a small cut.
The report (S. Rept. 113-182) on the Senate bill (S. 2438) was approved yesterday (June 5) and released today. The bill itself has not yet been posted by the Government Printing Office (GPO).
AST is responsible for facilitating and regulating the commercial space launch industry. For the current fiscal year (FY2014), the office received $16.011 million.
The FY2015 request is $16.605 million, but the House Appropriations Committee reduced it to $16.000 million when it approved its version of the T-HUD bill in May. The House committee's report (H. Rept. 113-464) did not explain why it reduced the budget and, in fact, cited the importance of the commercial launch industry to the country; asserted its commitment to ensuring a viable, healthy and competitive industry; and noted AST's heavy workload. It told the FAA to "meet the modest funding reduction in this account through savings from non-safety related activities." The House committee also stated that it supports using heavy lift launch vehicles, including the Space Launch System, for commercial launches to low Earth orbit (LEO) and beyond. It urges AST to "leverage" its licensing authority to "encourage private sector investment in systems by ensuring that commercial activities can be conducted on a non-interference basis."
The House is scheduled to begin consideration of the T-HUD bill, H.R. 4745, on Monday (June 9). The Senate has not announced when it will take up the bill, but Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said at yesterday's markup that the Senate leadership has agreed to bring some appropriations bills to the Senate floor for debate during the week of June 16.
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