In late September 2010, after many months of debate, Congress passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. This three-year authorization demonstrated a bipartisan, cooperative effort on the part of both the House and the Senate to provide a framework for engaging the Executive Branch in a comprehensive dialog on the future of NASA. On October 11, 2010, the bill was signed into law by the president.
In an era when such strong bipartisan agreement is rarely seen, the overwhelming support on both sides of the political aisle for our nation’s space program and for the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 reaffirmed our nation’s strong commitment to a space program that is dynamic, engaging, and sustainable. Although the compromise embodied in this legislation is not without risk to the ultimate success of the U.S. human spaceflight program, it nevertheless provides guidance to the Executive Branch and a path forward.
It is now incumbent upon Congress, the Administration, NASA, commercial concerns, and non-governmental organizations to work together to implement both the spirit and the letter of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. It is now time to enact legislation that appropriates the required funding in compliance with the Authorization Act.
Rick Zucker, Executive Vice President for the National Space Society (NSS), stated, “Throughout this debate, the NSS has reaffirmed its longstanding and unwavering commitment to further space exploration and development. We were encouraged that the Executive and Legislative branches listened to the public’s pleas to maintain American leadership in space, utilize our investment in the International Space Station, stimulate the development of commercial space, and develop technologies to reach beyond low Earth orbit. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was a victory for our nation as a whole. However, there is still much work to be done, not the least of which is the passage of an appropriations bill that is in accordance with the Authorization Act of 2010.”
NSS calls upon our political leaders to, once again, put aside partisan politics, and to enact an appropriations bill that funds NASA to the full extent of the Authorization Act. Unless the necessary funding as set forth in the Authorization Act is appropriated by Congress, the people will view the Authorization Act as just another empty promise from a government in gridlock. In contrast, with a matching appropriation passed, Congress and the Administration can share in the credit for NASA’s accomplishments in the coming years, including high-tech jobs, American youths dreaming of the future, and an economy stimulated by new technology and discoveries.
Therefore, NSS calls on Congress to pass an appropriations bill for NASA at the earliest opportunity.