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The United States Senate Decides To Complete The International Space Station

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Following months of massive cuts to the life science programs by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, the U.S. Senate has stepped in to set minimum requirements for spending on the ISS, and has directed NASA to reestablish programs that were cut under Administrator Griffin’s heavy handed attempt to find enough money to realize the President’s “Vision For Space Exploration”.

To be fair, Griffin was handed a mandate to return to the moon, but was supposed to make it happen without additional funding. The obvious answer was to cut existing programs, and downsize the agency in order to fit this new goal into NASA’s current budget.

Apparently, there are members of the Senate who recognize the impossibility of this, and they are stepping forward with both the cash, and a list of requirements that NASA must follow. One of these requirements is the completion of the ISS, along with a specific level of life science research.

WASHINGTON – The Senate tonight passed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Act of 2005, legislation authored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space. The legislation authorizes NASA for Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008, establishes a policy objective of uninterrupted U.S. spaceflight capability and requires completion of the International Space Station (ISS). It has been reconciled with the House version and will now be sent to President Bush to be signed into law.

“Our national policy will determine the nation’s role in future space exploration and its contribution to broad research and our national security,” Sen. Hutchison said. “Minimizing the gap in space flight must be a goal if the U.S. wants to be a leader in space exploration. The NASA Administrator recently announced a new NASA plan which reduces the gap to as little as one year. I applaud his recognition of the concerns outlined in my bill and encourage action to narrow the gap even further.”

Sen. Hutchison’s NASA legislation designates the U.S. segment of the ISS as a national laboratory facility. The administrator would be required to outline operations and functions of the ISS national laboratory activities. Sen. Hutchison has acted with a focus on the broad research benefits and capabilities of the ISS.

“Designation of the ISS as a national laboratory will expand the variety of areas to which space research can be applied. Our future in space has unlimited potential that can be harnessed through appropriate guidance, oversight and accountability,” Sen. Hutchison said.

In addition, it authorizes $17.9 billion in Fiscal Year 2007 and $18.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 in NASA appropriations funding. It includes language to ensure NASA completes a balanced science plan and requires a report to Congress every two years. The legislation also provides for the development of a National Aeronautics Research Plan to guide the course of future investments and priorities in this important area of NASA’s scientific activities.

Sen. Hutchison visited the Johnson Space Center on December 7 where she met with the new director of the center, Michael L. Coats, and discussed her vision for NASA’s future.

For more information on this dramatic turn of events, partial transcripts of the funding bill, and some keen commentary by NASA Watch Editor Keith Cowing, be sure to read Congress Gives NASA It’s Marching Orders on Space Station Science

Also posted at VERMONT SPACE
( It’s not over till the fat lady walks in space… )

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About Bennett Dawson

  • WOOHOO! This is great news!

    You’ve made my week. Until Christmas, of course.

  • Back On Welfare

    Is stem cell research legal in space??

  • Bennett

    Phillip – I agree. It’s a sign that even if this administration, for whatever reason, turns away from its proposals and “Vision”, the Senate and Congress intend to ensure a strong and balanced space program – without sacrificing hard science to the manned aspect of space exploration.

    A good day for science and space program supporters.

    Merry Christmas, indeed!

  • gonzo marx


    thanks, Bennet, for putting this up here

    if nothing else, this is a step in the right direction, let’s hope the follow throught lives up to the Potential


  • Bennett

    Gonzo – I’m starting to think that the “old guard” in the Senate and Congress has passed on, and that the Boomers who have taken their places have been secretly harboring the same hopes and dreams that we share.

    Now that they hold the reigns, they can finally act on their vision.

    I need to write to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and personally applaud her part in keeping the promise of NASA alive. But she’s not alone. On this one point, it seems the majority of Senators and Congressmen actually get it.

    Dave Nalle, Shark, or anyone else from Texas; I’m curious, have you been voting to keep Senator Hutchison in office?

    Please continue to do so!

  • Senator Hutchison is the less reprehensible of our two current Senators, and a huge step forward from the unlamented Phil Gramm. But the only reason she’s pushed this is to boost employment in Houston and Clearlake. I’ve always looked on her with some disdain, but in the current environment in the senate she looks fairly good compared to most of the weasels in office.


  • This is without question music to my ears on a personal level as well as on a broader level. Bennett, thanks for getting this up here.