Congressman John Culberson (TX-07) today introduced the Space Leadership Preservation Act , legislation that will change business as usual at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and create a more stable and accountable space program.

“Too many NASA programs have been cancelled due to cost-overruns, mismanagement or abrupt program changes at the start of each new Administration,” stated Congressman Culberson. “In the last 20 years, NASA has spent more than $20 billion on cancelled programs and our astronauts now rely on the Russians to get to the International Space Station.”

“It is unacceptable to allow our space program to atrophy because of lack of vision and the changing political winds from year to year,” added Culberson, who chairs the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee which overseas funding for NASA.  “We must depoliticize NASA, and let the agency refocus on its core mission of exploration. Science should drive the mission  not politics.”

Culberson also acknowledged and thanked Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) who chairs the House Science Committee for his leadership in helping craft the bill.

“As chairman of the committee that oversees NASA, my goal is to ensure its success as the only agency responsible for space exploration,” said Smith. “I know Congressman Culberson shares that commitment and I’m pleased join him in introducing the Space Leadership Preservation Act. For more than 50 years, the U.S. has led the world in space exploration. We must ensure that the U.S. continues to lead in space for the next 50 years.”

The Space Leadership Preservation Act creates a 10-year term for the NASA Administrator to ensure decisions are made based on the best science available and to minimize the politics of changing administrations. It also establishes a Board of Directors similar to the National Science Board that governs the National Science Foundation. The board would consist of former astronauts and respected scientists appointed by Members of Congress who would help shape the agency’s annual budget request.  They would also create a candidate pool from which the President would select the NASA Administrator.

Additionally, the bill gives NASA multi-year procurement authority to build rockets and spacecraft the same way the U.S. Navy builds aircraft carriers and submarines. It also requires NASA to submit their annual budget request directly to Congress, free from the political filter of the White House, so that Members of Congress can better understand what the agency needs to maintain America’s leadership in space exploration.

Finally, it requires NASA to follow the priorities outlined in the Decadal Surveys, which represent consensus among the nation’s brightest scientific minds regarding exploration goals for the next 10 years.

“Along with full funding for NASA, this bill will unleash the brilliant scientists, engineers and astronauts at NASA to do what they do best with less political interference from one side or the other,” said Culberson.  “More than any other federal agency, NASA has the ability to inspire the human spirit and lift up future generations to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no human has gone before.”