U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), a longtime NASA advocate, said Jan. 13 she will not run for re-election in 2012.

As the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee and a member of the Senate Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee, the 67-year-old Texas native has often been a leading voice on NASA issues.

Hutchison previously had planned to leave Congress in 2010 regardless of the outcome of her primary challenge against Texas Gov. Rick Perry. After her defeat last March, however, Hutchison said she was persuaded by her Republican colleagues to serve out the remaining two years of her third term.