Congress Weighs in on NASA Goals

WASHINGTON, July 21 (UPI) — A U.S. congressional committee is considering a bill that would reject the Obama administration’s proposed new direction for NASA, panel members say.

The House Science Committee’s proposed measure comes after an authorization bill approved by a Senate panel last week also rebuffed the administration’s proposals, AAAS Science magazine reported Tuesday.

The House bill would have the National Aeronautics and Space Administration develop spacecraft to take U.S. astronauts into Earth orbit by 2015, in contrast to the administration’s proposal to put the building of such craft into the hands of commercial space companies, the magazine said.

NASA should develop a heavy-lift rocket by 2020, the bill says, instead of merely selecting a heavy-lift design by 2015, as laid out in the administration’s plans for the agency.

Under the House bill, only $150 million would be allocated over the next three years for commercial flights to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, a fraction of the $3.3 billion the administration proposes to spend on promoting commercial space flight.

The House and Senate bills are just the first step in a long budget process that is bound to be contentious, AAAS Science said.

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