A proposed Senate spending bill would provide $17.9 billion to NASA

NASA’s massive Space Launch System development effort gets a lift while its Commercial Crew Program gets more scrutiny in a proposed Senate spending bill that provides $17.9 billion to the space agency next year, about $254 million more than in 2014. The proposed NASA budget is part of a $52.1 billion spending package approved June 5 by the Senate Appropriations Committee. NASA’s proposed appropriation is $439 million more than the White House requested. “We were very disappointed in the president’s request,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee and its commerce, justice, science subcommittee, said during a June 3 subcommittee markup.

Back when it was still flying its own vehicles, NASA primarily relied on contractors to maintain and operate them. The agency’s current plan takes this approach a bit further, paying private companies a fee for service to take materials and, eventually, people into low-Earth orbit. SpaceX and Orbital Science are already taking cargo to the International Space Station, and three companies—Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada—are currently receiving money to develop crewed vehicles. But this plan doesn’t have uniform support from Congress, and the Houston Chronicle’s Eric Burger has found that one of the Congressional detractors has slipped wording into a NASA funding bill that could potentially derail the whole process. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has added a small clause that would require all the competing companies to engage in a specific form of cost tracking. Doing so is far more easily dictated than done, based on this description of the accounting methods.

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Written by Carl Durrek

Carl is a gaming fanatic, forever stuck on Reddit and all-around lover of food.

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