2010 Deadline Extended If Approved... But That's A Big
NASA may soon be granted some
breathing room in its quest to wrap up all space shuttle missions
by September 2010. A bill now under consideration in the House of
Representatives would put three additional shuttle missions on the
space agency's schedule, and would remove the hard deadline for all
flights to be completed.
Florida Today reports that approval is part of a $20.2 billion
budget for NASA in FY2009, an increase of $2.6 billion over the
current White House recommendation. The bill passed the House
Science and Technology Committees Space and Aeronautics
Subcommittee on Wednesday, and could come to a full vote within a
Under the House bill, two shuttle flights to the International
Space Station -- now listed as contingency flights -- would be
finalized. A third flight would deliver the Alpha Magnetic
Spectrometer; that mission was dropped by NASA after the February
2003 loss of Columbia.
"This bill essentially says we're done when we're done," said
Florida Congressman Tom Feeney, who sponsored the bill with
committee chairman Mark Udall. (Ironically, Udall was unable to
make the vote on the bill, due to a delayed flight.)
The legislation faces an uphill battle, however. To date,
Congress has not approved a single non-war-related spending bill
for the year, as lawmakers wait for the November election to
determine the next presidential administration.
Feeney notes the new reauthorization plan for NASA isn't a
hard-and-fast determination for how NASA spends its money for the
next few years, but merely a blueprint the next administration may
take into consideration.
"It would be foolish to try to pass a bill that would go deep
into the next administration when, candidly, none of the candidates
have said a whole lot of detailed stuff about space," Feeney
The reauthorization measure "sends a message to Congress and the
next president that NASA is a national resource that is worthy of
our strong support," Udall added.
The House plan would also approve about $1 billion for
development of NASA's Constellation manned space program, which
will ultimately replace the space shuttle.