This bill would authorize $19.5 billion in funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during fiscal year 2017. It also outlines long-term priorities for NASA, including human exploration of Mars and the development of capabilities needed for crewed and uncrewed deep space exploration missions.
Specifically, the bill continues support for the development of the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and the Orion crew vehicle for deep space exploration. NASA would be tasked with launching an uncrewed exploration mission by 2018 and a crewed exploration mission by 2021. It also supports full utilization of the International Space Station through at least 2024 with the continued use of private sector space companies to deliver cargo and undertake experiments, and facilitates the development of vehicles to transport American astronauts without relying on Russian launches. NASA would also outline a plan to make low-earth orbit more accessible to the private sector without government support.
Human exploration of Mars in the next 25 years would be added as one of NASA’s formal goals and objectives, and NASA would be submit a “roadmap” for accomplishing it to Congress.
NASA would be authorized to provide for the medical monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of astronauts which would include tests for conditions that NASA deems to be associated with human space flight.
As an authorization of funding, this bill doesn’t actually allow money to be spent on these programs. That will require the passage of an appropriations bill at a later date. But it authorizes the following amounts to be spent by NASA based on the following high-level breakdown:
- $5.500 billion for science;
- $5.023 billion for space operations;
- $4.330 billion for exploration;
- $2.788 billion for safety, security, and mission services;
- $640 million for aeronautics;
- $686 million for space technology;
- $388 million for construction and environmental compliance and restoration;
- $115 million for education;
- $37 million for inspector general.