HUNTSVILLE, AL – President Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 into law in Washington with little fanfare today, giving the space agency a new road map for the coming decade.
But funding the new vision, which includes a new heavy-lift rocket to be developed in Huntsville, is anything but assured, according to a press conference today. Funding still has to pass in what NASA supporter Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., predicted will be a “tough” lame duck session of Congress after the November midterm elections.
Some Republican senators, concerned about the budget deficit, want all government spending held to 2008 levels, Nelson said, calling that option “a disaster for NASA.”
Nelson discussed the new law in an hour-long teleconference with space reporters also including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr., NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, former astronaut Sally Ride and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla.
Bolden read a statement praising the legislation as an “exciting new course of exploration and discovery,” but left the teleconference without taking questions.
A photo released by the White House shows the president signing the legislation at his desk in the Oval Office with no NASA supporters around him.
The new road map cancels most of the Constellation rocket program that was being developed here in favor of a speeded-up plan to develop a new heavy lift rocket and commercial space industry.