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Senate Approves Legislation Authorizing $10B for NASA’s Human Landing System Program

NASA authorization act

Senate Approves Legislation Authorizing $10B for NASA’s Human Landing System Program

The Senate, via a 68-32 vote, has approved the U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which includes legislation granting more than $10 billion to support NASA’s Human Landing System program.

Funding authorized by the NASA bill will be used to finance a second HLS contractor and the existing $2.9 billion lunar lander development contract awarded to SpaceX, SpaceNews reported.

The NASA authorization act addresses budget shortfalls that led to the awarding of just one HLS contract among bidders SpaceX, Dynetics and Blue Origin. The space agency was initially open to awarding the contract to two companies but a lack of funding appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2021 made it impossible to do so.

Specific language in the bill preserves the award already made to SpaceX and requires NASA to select a second company within a 60-day period.

In addition, the bill states that the multi-billion dollar funding would have to be appropriated on an annual basis from 2021 through 2025, barring objections from Congress.

Speaking at a Washington Space Business Roundtable webinar, Alicia Brown, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, welcomed the $10 billion authorization, saying it is more than what was expected to come out of the president’s budget.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also applauded the bill’s passage and anticipated its signing into law.

The Senate vote comes weeks after Dynetics and Blue Origin filed protests with the Government Accountability Office regarding the award of the HLS contract to SpaceX.

Blue Origin said in its filing that NASA unreasonably favored SpaceX’s lander by minimizing risks in its design while Dynetics disagreed with several aspects of the acquisition process and the elements of the space agency’s technical evaluation for the contract.

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Category: Space

Tags: Alicia Brown Bill Nelson Blue Origin Dynetics Human Landing System Human Landing System program Maria Cantwell NASA NASA authorization act Senate space SpaceNews SpaceX US Innovation and Competitiveness Act