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Senate OKs $19.5B Bipartisan NASA Authorization Measure; Sen. Ted Cruz Comments

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The Senate on Friday unanimously passed an amended bipartisan bill that would authorize $19.5 billion in fiscal year 2017 appropriations for NASA and require the agency to create a transition plan for the International Space Station, Space News reported Saturday.

Jeff Foust writes the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 will not be signed into law this year since the House approved its final bills Thursday but could serve as a basis for a new measure once the next Congress convenes in January.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the bill’s lead sponsor, said he plans to collaborate with other lawmakers in both the House and Senate on a similar bill in 2017, the report added.

The Senate bill would require NASA to study human space exploration missions to Mars by 2033 and submit an assessment of alternatives to the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission in order to demonstrate technology platforms for the Journey to Mars, according to a report by Marcia S. Smith for SpacePolicyOnline.com.

The proposed legislation would provide congressional support for the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft and would require NASA to develop a human exploration roadmap starting in December 2017, Smith reports.

Other provisions of the bill include the development of research and development plans for supersonic and hypersonic aircraft and provision of medical care for former astronauts and payload specialists with spaceflight-related medical conditions, the report added.

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