The New York Times’ Kenneth Chang, the Times reporter responsible for his paper’s great coverage on space, reports in Senate Panel Near Agreement on Bill to Roll Back NASA Changes that the struggle over whether to adopt the proposed changes to the U.S. human space flight program, as outlined in the White House’s proposed Fiscal Year 2011 NASA Budget, is drawing to a close.
As reported by Chang, bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2010, being crafted by Democratic and Republican leaders on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, would guide NASA’s direction over the next three years and reverse large swaths of President Obama’s proposed changes to NASA’s human space flight program. Under the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2010, the Agency would,
- Add one more Space Shuttle flight.
Move full speed on the development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle.
Continue development of the Orion spacecraft.
Require commercial crew launchers to demonstrate their capabilities before being awarded large ISS crew launch contracts.
Negotiations over the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 are still on-going. Certainly, the Obama Administration will fight to keep its proposed changes to NASA and the nation’s human space flight program. Election year politics could also interfere. The Appropriations Committees of either house have yet to weight-in. Still, from Chang’s reporting, it seems that a bi-partisan consensus has coalesced on what our nation should be doing in human space exploration and that vision seems to be a sensible one.