WASHINGTON — A draft omnibus appropriations bill circulating Dec. 14 in the U.S. Senate would give NASA a $186 million budget boost in 2011 and includes funds to begin building a heavy-lift launch vehicle and develop commercial crew and cargo delivery services for the international space station.

The draft document, which would fund NASA at $18.9 billion this year, mirrors top-line funding levels approved in a broader $1.09 trillion year-long continuing resolution adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives Dec. 8. That bill, H.R. 3082, currently awaits action in the Senate, where lawmakers are expected to consider the draft omnibus legislation as a substitute to the House measure this week.

The draft Senate bill includes:

  • $5.24 billion for Space Operations, including $989 million for NASA’s space shuttle program.
  • $5 billion for Science, including $15 million for restarting production of plutonium-238 used in long-lasting spacecraft batteries.
  • $3.7 billion for Exploration, including $1.8 billion to initiate development of a heavy-lift rocket capable of lifting a minimum of 130 tons and $1.2 billion for a “multipurpose crew vehicle.”
  • $559 million for Space Research and Technology.
  • $579 million for Aeronautics.
  • $3 billion for Cross Agency Support.
  • $508 million for Construction and Environmental Compliance.
  • $180 million for Education.
  • $37.5 million for NASA Office of the Inspector General.

NASA and the rest of the federal government have been operating since Oct. 1 under a series of short-term continuing resolutions, the latest of which expires Dec. 18.