An appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives shortly before Congress adjourned for its summer recess contains increases for NASA aeronautics research, along with hikes for exploration and earth and space sciences.
The Fiscal Year 2008 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act (H.R. 3093) would increase the agency’s aeronautics research request by $146 million, for a total of $700 million, and would add $325 million to earth and space science accounts. The measure would fully fund President Bush’s budget request of $3.9 billion to continue Project Constellation, NASA’s multifaceted program for space exploration including journeys to the moon and Mars.
The bill received strong bipartisan backing, passing by a vote of 281 to 142. “This is a signal that Congress understands the core importance of NASA’s space exploration, aeronautics and scientific programs to the nation’s global high-technology leadership,” said Aerospace Industries Association president and CEO John Douglass. “These funding levels would allow NASA to move forward with vital initiatives.”
The bill would also allocate $108.7 million to the Commerce Department’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), $62 million more than the White House recommended. The MEP supports the efforts of thousands of small and medium-size businesses in all 50 states, including aerospace suppliers, to modernize their production and distribution networks.