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On July 18, 2013, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a markup of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 2687). The bill, which reauthorizes programs at NASA for two years with a top line budget of $16.9 billion, was approved by a vote of 22 to 17 along party lines.
The bill authorizes a total of $4.6 billion for science, including $1.5 billion for planetary science and $1.2 billion for earth science. This represents a reduction of the earth science budget by about one-third, to 2008 levels.
The bill sets clear human spaceflight goals for NASA, which include lunar orbit, the surface of moon, and Mars. It provides no funding for the Asteroid Retrieval Mission requested in the President’s FY 2014 budget. It additionally prohibits NASA from implementing the President’s requested restructuring of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, which would have eliminated most of NASA’s involvement in education and outreach.
Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD) introduced an amendment, which amounted to a substitute bill (H.R. 2616) that was defeated along party lines. The substitute bill would have reauthorized NASA for three years, beginning with a funding level of $18.1 billion in FY 2014 and increasing to a funding level of $18.9 billion by FY 2016, $2 billion above the majority bill. Funding levels similar to those in Edwards’s substitute amendment were recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
NASA officials released a synopsis of their Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC), a program that provides private sector companies with the opportunity to utilize NASA’s resources and expertise to produce cost-effective, commercial products and services for low Earth orbit and beyond.
NASA is seeking comments on the synopsis and proposals from private companies interested in pursuing such partnerships. Interested parties should submit a letter of intent by August 7, 2013.
Successful partners will enter into Space Act Agreements, agreements formed with private companies, universities, or government agencies to carry out a specific objective, with NASA to develop integrated space capabilities.