March 7th, the House of Representatives passed S. 442, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017, passed by the Senate in February. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.
For our space program to be successful, NASA needs consistency in its mission. The NASA Transition Authorization Act keeps a mission to Mars as NASA’s horizon goal, supporting the critical deep space exploration systems as well as partnerships with industry that will make this horizon goal successful. This bill also recognizes the importance of the Moon in these plans as well as the role NASA plays in lowering barriers to access for other actors in space.
S. 442 includes several provisions from my American Space Renaissance Act, H.R. 4945 introduced in the 114th Congress:
- Launch Indemnification: Allows the NASA Administrator to determine a maximum probable loss for a launch, and set the insurance requirements to that determination. This provides flexibility to launch providers and could potentially lead to cheaper launches.
- Orbital debris removal: Calls for a review of concepts and technologies for removing existing orbital debris, enhancing the safety of the space environment.
- ISS transition plan: Requires NASA to develop a plan to transition from NASA sponsorship of the ISS to other regimes, critical to ensure the United States does not suffer a gap in low Earth orbit presence.
- Venture Class launch: Indicates Congress’ support for the Venture Class Launch Services program, a key program to enhance the domestic commercial launch industry and ensure we have necessary capabilities in the United States.