A group of bipartisan senators has introduced a NASA appropriations bill that would, among other things, authorise funding for the support of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030.
The bill was introduced by the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, Senator Ted Cruz. Sponsors of the bill include subcommittee ranking member Kyrsten Sinema and the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Senators Roger Wicker and Maria Cantwell.
In addition to committing to broad support to send the US back to the Moon and to push beyond, the bill sought to ensure support for the ISS for the next decade. According to a November 6 US Senate press release, committing to the ISS through 2030 would enable the US to continue to build upon its position of dominance in space while creating high-paying jobs.
“By extending the ISS through 2030, this legislation will help grow our already burgeoning space economy, fortifying the United States’ leadership in space, increasing American competitiveness around the world and creating more jobs and opportunity here at home,” explained Cruz.
In addition to extending support for the ISS over the next decade, the bill also sets out provisions to extend NASA’s waiver from the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act. Waiving the act allows NASA to work with the Russian space agency Roscomos on the ISS. The current waiver is set to expire at the end of 2020. The new bill looks to extend it through to 2030.
Despite the bill seeking to extend the United States support of the ISS for another decade, it also lays out a path beyond the station. The bill instructs NASA to explore paths that would ensure the United States maintains a continuous human presence in low Earth orbit beyond the useful life of the station. This will likely see NASA shift from maintaining the ISS to purchasing time and space aboard commercial stations.