Washington, D.C. –Members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today praised House passage of the NASA Authorization Act of 2015, legislation intended to reaffirm Congress’s commitment to NASA as a multi mission agency with programs in science, aeronautics, exploration, and human spaceflight, and make clear that Mars should be NASA’s primary goal. The bill was introduced by Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), and was also sponsored by House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-Md.), and Space Subcommittee Vice-Chair Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The NASA Authorization Act of 2015 helps ensure that the United States will continue its proud tradition of being a world leader in space exploration. For more than 50 years, the U.S. has led the world in space exploration. The U.S. was the first nation to put a human on the moon. And NASA’s Voyager 1, an American space mission, was the first human-made object to enter interstellar space.

“Our astronauts are national heroes. Alan Shepherd, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Sally Ride are household names. And today’s astronauts inspire American students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to reach for the stars. Space exploration is an investment in our nation’s future - often our long-term future.  This bill expresses bipartisan confidence in America’s space initiatives.”

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.): “In a time of partisanship on Capitol Hill, both Republicans and Democrats came together to craft legislation that moves beyond congressional districts and parochial interests.  I know many of our colleagues agree that American leadership in space is a matter of both national pride and national security. We are committed to once more launching American astronauts, on American rockets, from American soil.

“This bill provides clear and consistent guidance to NASA.  It requires the agency to develop an exploration roadmap and provides a framework to build an executable plan for future exploration efforts.  NASA must use this plan to find the most efficient and effective ways to build technologies and capabilities within constrained budgets.”

The NASA Authorization Act of 2015 authorizes funding consistent with the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2015. The bill continues the consistent guidance Congress has given to NASA for nearly a decade by reaffirming a stepping stone approach to exploration. The bill focuses NASA’s efforts to develop a capability to access the International Space Station so that America can once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. It also increases support for the Space Launch System and the Orion Crew Vehicle – systems being developed to take astronauts to deep-space destinations like Mars – in an attempt to keep the programs on schedule for a 2017 launch date.  

The bill also supports a healthy science directorate that reflects input from the scientific community and an aeronautics research directorate that contributes to our nation’s aerospace economy.

More details on the bill can be found here.

The full text of the bill can be found here.

Letters of support for the bill from the Planetary Society and the Planetary Science Institute