President Trump has signed the NASA Transition Authorization Act.
The U.S. House passed the legislation — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 — on March 7, and Trump signed it into law March 21 (S442). The Senate approved the NASA legislation in February.
Trump’s signing the bill means continued support for the new deep-space launch vehicle under development by Boeing and NASA, SLS-Orion. It also signals support for continued space exploration missions, though NASA-watchers will continue to look for signals over mission priorities. Some are pushing a manned mission to Mars, while others say a new lunar landing should be funded first.
Trump recently put forth a 2018 “budget blueprint” featuring $1.9 billion in funding for all NASA space programs, including its key Commercial Crew Program covering spacecraft shuttles of cargo and eventually astronauts to the International Space Program. That’s the same level of funding as in NASA’s prior fiscal year.
Space advocacy groups applauded the measure becoming law.
“The bipartisan NASA Transition Authorization Act, which was passed without objection by both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Trump today, represents our nation’s continued commitment to NASA’s deep space exploration program,” said Mary Lynne Dittmar, executive director of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. “The unanimous bipartisan support for this reauthorization, along with the budget requested for NASA released by the White House last week, demonstrates the deep support throughout the Administration and Congress for our national space exploration program.”
Congressional support for the legislation was broadly bipartisan.
“The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 reaffirms our support for the bold visions and commitments that will shape America’s future in space,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who chairs the house Committee on Science, Space and Technology. “This bill reiterates the importance of maintaining NASA’s continuity of purpose to ensure America remains a leader in space exploration. It also directs NASA to create a roadmap for human exploration and guides the future path of exploration for decades to come. With the passage of this bill, we take another step in making America great again. ”
Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin, R-Texas, also issued a statement at the time of the House’s approval: “The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 is a bipartisan and bicameral bill that creates certainty and long-term stability for NASA and America’s human space flight programs. The bill continues support for the International Space Station, the Space Launch System, the Orion crew vehicle, and the commercial cargo and crew programs. Its passage puts NASA and America on a clear path forward into the next chapter of space exploration.”