NASA has recently been in the limelight of the Senate both for good reasons and no so good ones too. Despite a number of them being negative, the Agency managed to get a greenlight on pushing its programs forward. While not fully autonomous and under supervision, NASA being represented by a bipartisan group of senators appeared before the Senate on Nov 6th to present an authorization bill to be passed
This follows the agency coming under direct duress after the Senate questioned the efficiency of their programs. The Senate was concerned over the agency receiving funding with nothing substantial to show for it. Without much discussion, the Committee passed the bill. It featured 20 amendments drawn from contributing senators
Among the changes were a language update of NASA’s Space Grant program, the inclusion of a space weather center, and that NASA would utilize low-enriched uranium to future power projects. The amended version of the bill keeps the major provisions intact, especially the language which allows the International Space Station to be extended from 2024 to 2030. Other parts of the bill promote a “stepping stone” method to human space exploration that leads to the moon as a phase in the medium to long term endeavors to launch a man to Mars. Although the White House did not explicitly state it, the Committee members noted that NASA was called on to work on placing a human on the moon by 2024.
The House expects that by 2024, NASA’s mission will carry the next man and first woman to the moon. This was stated by Senator Roger Wicker, who is chairman of the full committee and a co-sponsor of the authorization act insisted that it was imperative that the first woman on the moon had to be American.
The bill will next head to be heard by the Senate itself. Cruz encouraged his House Members also to take initiative on the bill. However, the Senate would also need to present its edition of the NASA permit bill. This authorization bill is one of 20 bills that have been approved in the Senate Commerce Committee review session. In another bill, The NASA Plum Brook Station in Ohio is set to be re-named the Neil A. Armstrong Testing Facility. This bill was also approved without any amendment or controversy. There is a similar proposal like this still pending in the Senate.
Though it didn’t seem likely at first, the odds might be turning to favor NASA toward future missions