Senate Approves $16.4 Billion Budget for NASA
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate approved a $200 million budget increase for NASA Thursday, giving the U.S. space agency most of the funding it needs to get started on a new lunar exploration plan to be unveiled Monday.
The NASA funding was approved as part of a $48.9 billion spending bill that also funds the Justice and Commerce Departments. Of that amount, NASA would receive $16.4 billion for 2006, about $60 million less than the agency requested but $200 million more than it had to spend this year.
The House of Representatives approved NASA's budget in July, providing $15 million more for NASA than it requested but the House bill also would require NASA to spend $110 million more on aeronautics research than it would like, or $952 million.
Similarly, the Senate bill would require NASA to spend $250 million in the year ahead preparing for a space shuttle mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA requested only a fraction of that amount for the proposed mission.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued a press release Thursday afternoon highlighting, among other things, the extra money added funds for the Hubble Space Telescope. Her press release also states that the $16.4 billion approved by the Senate "fully funds all major space science and earth science programs, the space shuttle, space station, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and the Moon-Mars initiative."
The Senate passed the spending bill by a vote of 91-4.
The House and Senate now must work out the differences between the two bills before sending the spending legislation to the White House for the president to sign into law.
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