The NASA Authorization Act of 2008, which cleared Congress on September 27, gives the agency $208.4 million more for aeronautics research than last year’s budget.
Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) president and CEO Marion Blakey said the bill provides much needed funding for space programs and aeronautics research and development, while providing the next administration with “a clear sense of congressional support” for the future of the agency.
The final version of the bill provides a total of $20.2 billion for NASA, with an additional $1 billion dedicated to accelerated development of the Orion spacecraft and Ares I launch vehicle. The bill authorizes $853.4 million for aeronautics.
“Congress is sending a clear signal to the next President with this bill that the country is serious about the importance of developing the NextGen air transportation system and in maintaining our leadership in space,” Blakey said.
NASA’s NextGen-related research will help increase the safety, security and capacity of air transportation operations while protecting the environment. NextGen improvements will be implemented over the next 10 years.
AIA said the additional funding for the Orion and Ares I is critical to reducing the impending five-year gap in the nation’s ability to travel to space when the space shuttle program retires in 2010.
“Congress understands the implications of failing to maintain U.S. access to space and its impact on our ability to remain on the cutting edge– an impact that is at the heart of our global economic and technological leadership,” Blakey said.