Economic Stimulus Package Contains $1 Billion for NASA

WASHINGTON -NASA stands to receive $1 billion of a $789 billion economic stimulus packagenegotiated by House and Senate conferees and headed for a vote in both chambersas soon as today, congressional sources said.

Theconferees reached a deal Wednesday that reconciles the differences between the Houseand Senate versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Thecompromise roughly split the difference between the Senate's proposed $1.3billion for NASA and the $600 million included in the House version of thebill.

Thecompromise spending plan includes $400 million tonarrow the gap between the planned 2010 retirement of the space shuttle andthefirst flight of its successor. The Senate measure had called for $450million; the House version included no money for narrowing the gap.  

NASA alsowould receive the House request of $400 million for Earth science and climatemonitoring projects and $150 million for aeronautics under the compromise.The Senate had proposed spending $50 million more in each area.

The Senatebill had included $250 million to repair NASA facilities damaged by HurricaneIke last summer, but the measure now headed for vote includes the Houserequest for $50 million.

NASA'sInspector General's Office would receive $2 million, a figure that has remainedunchanged from the House and Senate versions of the stimulus package.

NASA's 2008budget was $17.3 billion. The agency has estimated it would cost an extra $5billion to extend the space shuttle fleet?s service beyond 2010 to about 2012.

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Becky Ianotta is a former SpaceNews reporter covering space industry and policy news from 2008 to 2009. Becky earned a bachelor's degree in English/Journalism from the University of Miami. She spent five years as an editor with the Key West Citizen in Florida before joining the SpaceNews team. She later wrote for Air Force Times before taking her current position as communication director for Mother's Against Drunk Driving.