Today, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, along with ranking member Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the NASA Authorization Act of 2019. This bill expands and improves upon the bipartisan legislation Sen. Cruz introduced in December 2018 and provides the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the clear direction needed to advance our nation’s space initiatives and investments and assert the United States’ global leadership in the final frontier.
“In the span of a single lifetime, we have seen space go from an uninhabited void or scientific novelty to an integral part of daily lives as a result of American innovation and ingenuity,” said Cruz. “As chairman of the Aviation and Space Subcommittee, I’m proud to lead bipartisan legislation that continues our nation’s bold vision for science and space exploration. Not only will this legislation help ensure Americans safely return to the moon, it will help ensure America’s dreams of taking the first step on the surface of Mars become a reality. Further, by extending the ISS through 2030, this legislation will help grow our already burgeoning space economy, fortifying the United States’ leadership in space, increasing American competitiveness around the world, and creating more jobs and opportunity here at home. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important legislation this year.”
“By investing in American’s leadership in space, our bipartisan bill strengthens our national security and creates economic opportunities for Arizonans,” said Sinema.
“The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 reinvigorated our nation’s vision to be the global leader in deep space exploration,” said Wicker. “This legislation would provide NASA with the vital tools it needs to build and execute groundbreaking space programs as we prepare to send the first woman to the Moon and plan future missions to Mars. I want to thank Ranking Member Cantwell and Senators Cruz and Sinema for working on this bipartisan legislation.”
“Washington state has been a leader in the space program for over 50 years, and with this legislation our state is poised to be a key part of NASA’s return to the Moon,” said Cantwell. “This time, women will be included at every level of the lunar exploration program-something that is long overdue. This bill also expands NASA’s important role in inspiring and educating the next generation of the nation’s STEM workforce so that America has the people necessary to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation.”
The NASA Authorization Act would:
• Support NASA’s human spaceflight and exploration efforts to return American astronauts to the Moon and prepare for future journeys to Mars.
• Extend authorization for the International Space Station through 2030 and direct NASA to take steps to grow the “space economy.”
• Require the United States to maintain a continuous human presence in low-Earth orbit through and beyond the useful life of the ISS.
• Support NASA’s leadership in coordinating the development of next generation spacesuits.
• Leverage private sector investment to bolster human space exploration.
• Authorize NASA’s Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL) authority. EUL allows companies to lease vacant or underutilized buildings owned by NASA with lease proceeds helping to fund capital improvements at the NASA centers.
• Provide rapid acquisition authorities similar to those that have proven successful at the Department of Defense and other agencies.
• Direct NASA to maintain and upgrade irreplaceable rocket launch and test infrastructure.
• Support vital life and physical science research to ensure that humans can live in deep space safely.
• Direct NASA to improve upon its planetary defense measures in order to protect Earth from asteroids and other near-Earth objects.
• Affirm NASA’s commitment to aeronautics research by supporting a robust X-plane program as well as work on efficient propulsion concepts and advanced composites.
• Support NASA’s STEM education and workforce efforts.
Read the full text of the bill here.