Senate Passes Its Version of NASA Budget

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) — A Senate budget plan for NASA adds another shuttle flight and has funding for a heavy-lift launch vehicle and for commercial space taxis, U.S. lawmakers say.

The bill must be reconciled with a measure in the U.S. House and will have to pass appropriation committees in both chambers, Florida Today reported Saturday.

The $19 billion bill passed Thursday on a unanimous vote, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a chief backer of the bill, said.

“That’s a near-miracle,” Nelson said.

The passage of the measure is “a big deal” for NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, he said, where about 8,000 jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the shuttle fleet retirement.

Nelson, who chairs the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee, said development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle would mean 2,000 new jobs at the space center.

“That lessens the layoffs if we can get the heavy-lift started in 2011,” he said.

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