WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) — The U.S. House has passed a bill that would add one more shuttle flight to NASA’s schedule and supports further heavy-lift rocket research, officials say.
Wednesday’s 304-118 vote marked a major milestone after much debate toward relying on commercial rockets instead of the space shuttle to ferry people to the International Space Station, Florida Today reported.
“This legislation will define NASA’s future by building on its past,” Democratic Rep. Suzanne Kosmas said. “Failure is not an option.”
Not everyone was enthusiastic about the measure, which has been approved by the Senate and now goes to President Obama for his signature.
“The legislation before us asks NASA to do too much with too little,” Republican Rep. Bill Posey said. “There is something in here for everybody to hate, sure enough. But there is no other alternative.”
NASA advocates considered the legislation key to securing the start of an additional $6 billion over five years Obama proposed for the agency.
“It immediately gives direction to NASA to go ahead and do the third shuttle flight, which they have to start planning now,” said Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, who visited the House floor repeatedly during the day to urge approval.
“And it gives the certainty that we’re going to have a heavy-lift vehicle, plus we’re going to have the commercial.”
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