NASA Authorization Act Heads to Congress After Senate Committee Approval
[Satellite TODAY 07-21-10] The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee unanimously approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which allows the U.S. government to employ the commercial space sector as a full partner to provide services to the International Space Station (ISS), the White House confirmed July 20.
The legislation provides $312 million in funding during the U.S. government’s 2011 fiscal year for the development of American commercial systems to transport crew to the ISS. To receive bipartisan support for the bill, the committee settled on an amount that was lower than what U.S. President Barack Obama initially asked for in the Authorization Act proposal.
The legislation, which must be approved by Congress, aims to save money for the U.S. government’s ISS initiatives as NASA retires the space shuttle later this year. In 2010, NASA will pay the Russian Space Agency $287.4 million for six seats on Russian Soyuz flights, which amounts to $47.9 million per seat. By 2013, the price-per-seat to carry U.S. astronauts will exceed $55 million.
SpaceX CEO and CTO Elon Musk praised the committee’s approval. “For about the same amount that is currently being spent on purchasing seats on Russian launch vehicles, we can create thousands of high-tech, high-paying jobs right here at home.”
SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp., Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Blue Origin, Orbital Sciences, Bigelow Aerospace and Paragon Space Development Corp. are among the companies developing ISS crew transport technology for NASA.