Senator Proposes Bill to Extend Space Shuttle Program

NASA Moves Space Shuttle Discovery to Launch Pad
Space shuttle Discovery is seen after completing its 3.4 mile trip from Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A on March 3, 2010 in preparation for an April 5 launch on NASA's STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON . U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

The proposed bill would also require the space agency to study options for a heavy-lift launcher that could be ready to deliver U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the end of 2013 and beyond low Earth orbit by the end of 2018.

Hutchison.s bill, if enacted, would deal a setback to U.S. President

Those commercial spacecraft would take the place of the NASA-led effort to replace the shuttle with the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and it Ares I launcher. Under Obama.s plan, the Constellation program overseeing Orion and Ares development would be cancelled.

.We must close the gap in U.S.

The bill, dubbed the Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act, calls for spending an additional $3.4 billion between 2010 and 2012 to keep the space shuttle flying.

The NASA budget Obama sent to Congress in February includes $989 million for the space shuttle program in 2011 and $86 million in 2012 . money meant to be used primarily for closing down the 30-year-old program.

The legislation proposed by Hutchinson would require NASA to spread out its four remaining

Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives next week by U.S. Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) and Bill Posey (R-Fla.).

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SpaceNews Staff Writer

Amy Klamper is a space reporter and former staff writer for the space industry news publication SpaceNews. From 2004 to 2010, Amy covered U.S. space policy, NASA and space industry professionals for SpaceNews. Her stories included profiles on major players in the space industry, space policy work in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as national policy set by the White House.