For the first time in nearly 6 and a half years, the House Of Representatives has recently passed a NASA authorization bill last March 7. The said bill will allegedly set the American space agency's policy and will recommend funding for FY2017, but does not actually provide any money. The House passed the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 by voice vote, clearing the measure for the President after a brief discussion on the House floor where no members spoke against the bill. Previously, it was found that the same bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Feb. 17.
The NASA Transition Authorization Act
According to reports revealed by Space Policy Online, although the bill was said to address NASA's space science, authorities have revealed that space technology and aeronautics programs human spaceflight is also one of the primary focus of the bill. A significant number of Republicans argue that NASA should focus on space exploration while other agencies conduct earth science research. On the other hand, many from the members of Democrats insist that only NASA launches earth science research satellites that are essential for understanding the only planet in the solar system that supports human life.
Furthermore, in one of his statements reported by Space News, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), who happens to be the chairman of the House space subcommittee, said that the bipartisan and bicameral bill grew to maturity through many long and serious discussions about the future of our nation's space program. That said, Rep. Babin claims that he's now even more encouraged by the bill's persistent emphasis on the continuity of purpose and stability. Additionally, authorities have revealed that the 146-page bill's overall purpose is to codify congressional intent regarding NASA's future during a time of transition from one presidential administration to another.
Areas Of Concern
Meanwhile, despite having a broad support, some House members highlighted areas of concern that may become issues in later legislation. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the ranking member of the House Science Committee explains that the bill does not directly address all of NASA's science programs, mainly Earth science and heliophysics. However, despite being critical of authorized funding levels for NASA's science, aeronautics and space technology accounts, she continues to explain that will be supportive of the bill. Ultimately, Mary Lynne Dittmar, executive director of the Coalition of Deep Space Exploration has claimed that the approval of the NASA Transition Authorization Act by Congress sends a clear message to the American people and our international partners that our nation remains committed to NASA's space exploration program.