Senate Approves $16.4 Billion Budget for NASA

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate approved a $200 million budget increasefor NASA Thursday, giving the U.S. space agency most of the funding it needs toget started on a new lunar exploration plan to beunveiled Monday.

The NASA funding was approved as part of a $48.9 billionspending bill that also funds the Justice and Commerce Departments. Of thatamount, NASA would receive $16.4 billion for 2006, about $60 million less than theagency 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 wouldrequire NASA to spend $110 million more on aeronautics research than it wouldlike, or $952 million.

Similarly, the Senate bill would require NASA to spend $250million in the year ahead preparing for a space shuttle mission to refurbish theHubble Space Telescope. NASA requested only a fraction of that amount for theproposed mission.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a senior member of the SenateAppropriations Committee, issued a press release Thursday afternoonhighlighting, among other things, the extra money added funds for the Hubble Space Telescope. Her pressrelease also states that the $16.4 billion approved by the Senate "fully fundsall major space science and earth science programs, the space shuttle, spacestation, 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 differencesbetween the two bills before sending the spending legislation to the WhiteHouse for the president to sign into law.

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Editor-in-Chief, SpaceNews

Brian Berger is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews, a bi-weekly space industry news magazine, and He joined SpaceNews covering NASA in 1998 and was named Senior Staff Writer in 2004 before becoming Deputy Editor in 2008. Brian's reporting on NASA's 2003 Columbia space shuttle accident and received the Communications Award from the National Space Club Huntsville Chapter in 2019. Brian received a bachelor's degree in magazine production and editing from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.