Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

House OKs Missions To Moon, Mars

Filed under
Sci/Tech

The House Friday overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's vision to send man back to the Moon and eventually on to Mars as it passed a bill to set NASA policy for the next two years.

The bill passed 383-15 after a collegial debate in which lawmakers stressed their commitment to not just Mr. Bush's ambitious space exploration plans but also to traditional NASA programs such as science and aeronautics.

There is some tension between Congress and the White House over the balance between Mr. Bush's vision for space exploration and other NASA initiatives. Originally, the measure would have shifted $1.3 billion in funds from exploration to other NASA programs. But after administration objections lawmakers added the money back to the budget for exploration during floor debate. That was done by adding to the bill's bottom line - now at $34.7 billion - not at the expense of science and aeronautics.

Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee said Mr. Bush's ambitious Moon and Mars missions "should not be done by cannibalizing other NASA missions."

The bill is the first NASA policy measure -- its budget is funded by a separate bill - to pass the House in five years. It advanced as the space agency tries to rebound from the Columbia disaster in February 2003 with the launch of the space shuttle Discovery next Tuesday.

The measure permits but does not explicitly endorse retiring the space shuttle fleet by 2010, as the administration would like to do. It directs the agency to launch a new crew exploration vehicle - which would lack the full capabilities of the shuttle but could travel to the International Space Station - as close to 2010 as feasible.

NASA's plans call for a new vehicle to be ready by 2014, which unnerves lawmakers who do not want the United States to have to rely on other countries to catch a lift to the space station.

A companion Senate measure approved by the Commerce, Science and Transportation panel last month would bar NASA from retiring the shuttle before a replacement vehicle is ready.

Both House and Senate bills also endorse a servicing and repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Without such a mission, the Hubble will fail when its gyroscopes and batteries wear out in the next few years, but the agency has not announced whether to let the telescope fail or whether it will undertake a costly manned repair mission.

"Congress endorses the President's Vision for Space Exploration," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. "The United States will work to return to the moon by 2020, and then will move on to other destinations."

The full Senate has yet to act on the NASA measure.

Regardless of the ringing endorsement Friday, NASA must still compete with other agencies for its budget in the annual appropriations process, which moves on a separate track. That promises to make it difficult to fulfill all of the policy recommendations made by the House on Friday.

Still, there was one lone voice against the bill. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., questioned spending billions to go to Mars when "day after day ... we're told we can't do enough for housing and we can't do enough for health care."

"This is a fundamental debate the country ought to have ... about whether or not to commit these untold billions ... at the expense of other important programs," he said.

By Andrew Taylor
Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Firefox OS media-casting stick strikes Kickstarter gold

The first Firefox OS based media player has arrived on Kickstarter, in the form of a $25 open-spec HDMI stick that supports Chromecast-like content casting. The Matchstick, which has already zoomed past its Kickstarter campaign’s $100,000 funding goal, with 28 days still remaining, was teased back in June by Mozilla developer evangelist Christian Heilmann. The unnamed prototype was billed as an open source HDMI stick that runs Mozilla’s Linux-based Firefox OS and offers casting capabilities. Few details were revealed at the time except that the device used the same DIAL (DIscovery And Launch) media-casting protocol created by Netflix and popularized by Google’s Chromecast. Read more

Open source history, present day, and licensing

Looking at open source softwares particularly, this is a fact that is probably useful to you if you are thinking about business models, many people don't care about it anymore. We talk about FOSS, Free and Open Source Software, but if we really are strict there's a difference between free software and open source software. On the left, I have free software which most typically is GPL software. Software where the license insures freedom. It gives freedoms to you as a user, but it also requires that the freedoms are maintained. On the right-hand side, you have open source software which is open for all, but it also allows you to close it. So here we come back to the famous clause of the GPL license, the reciprocity requirement which says, "If I am open, you need to be open." So software that comes under the GPL license carries with it something that other people call a virus. I call it a blessing because I think it's great if all software becomes open. Read more

Leftovers: Software

Proprietary

today's howtos