House passes NASA budget with calls for manned flights to Mars


McClatchy Washington Bureau

With bipartisan support, the House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill authorizing $17.6 billion in fiscal 2014 spending for U.S. space programs, roughly matching President Barack Obama’s budget request and underscoring the nation’s commitment to sending American astronauts into deep space.

The vote was 401-2.

“We are committed to once more launching American astronauts, on American rockets, from American soil,” Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, the chairman of the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said on the House floor before passage.

The bill, he said, “will serve as a pathway to Mars.”

After taking office, amid budget pressures from the financial crisis that had devastated the economy, Obama canceled the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Constellation program, an effort to modernize the aging space shuttle system, but plagued itself by delays and cost overruns.

The decision forced the United States to rely on the Russian Federal Space Agency to carry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station and to rely on commercial partners developing rockets for other missions.

However, neither Obama nor Congress abandoned human space flight. Rather, they required work on a next-generation system, the Space Launch System, a heavy-lift rocket launcher more powerful than any built before, as well as on a new Orion spacecraft designed to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Testing on the Space Launch System has been conducted at the Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi. The first mission integrating the two new systems is scheduled for 2017.

While reinforcing those aspirations, the House bill passed Monday leaves to NASA the task of setting a road map for the next steps in space exploration.

The subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards, said that the bill “is indeed a bipartisan effort. “

“It didn’t start out that way,” she said. “The nation should be glad it ended up that way.”

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has yet to pass its version of a NASA reauthorization bill.

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  • Solid US job gains expected for 6th straight month

    With a host of reports this week pointing to a healthier U.S. economy, analysts expect Friday's monthly jobs report to send a similar message.

John Tefft of Va., arrives to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, to be the new U.S. Ambassador to Russia. President Barack Obama's earlier announcement that he is tapping Tefft for the high-profile diplomatic post comes amid a crucial period in U.S.-Russia relations, which have been severely tested over President Vladimir Putin's actions in neighboring Ukraine, among other issues. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has been without an ambassador since February.

    Senate confirms US ambassador to Russia

    After a period in limbo with a slew of other nominees to be U.S. diplomats around the world, John Tefft gained Senate confirmation Thursday night as America's new envoy to Russia.

  • FAA places new restrictions on flights over Iraq

    The Federal Aviation Administration is restricting U.S. airlines from flying at or below 30,000 feet over Iraq because of what it calls "the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict" there.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category