H.R. 6063: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008

May 19, 2008 at 10:36 am | Posted in Space Law | Leave a comment

by P.J. Blount with the blog faculty
The text of H.R. 6063: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 is now available. Topics covered by the bill include:

The Congressional findings:

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

The Congress finds, on this, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the following:

(1) NASA is and should remain a multimission agency with a balanced and robust set of core missions in science, aeronautics, and human space flight and exploration.

(2) Investment in NASA’s programs will promote innovation through research and development, and will improve the competitiveness of the United States.

(3) Investment in NASA’s programs, like investments in other Federal science and technology activities, is an investment in our future.

(4) Properly structured, NASA’s activities can contribute to an improved quality of life, economic vitality, United States leadership in peaceful cooperation with other nations on challenging undertakings in science and technology, national security, and the advancement of knowledge.

(5) NASA should assume a leadership role in a cooperative international Earth observations and research effort to address key research issues associated with climate change and its impacts on the Earth system.

(6) NASA should undertake a program of aeronautical research, development, and where appropriate demonstration activities with the overarching goals of–

(A) ensuring that the Nation’s future air transportation system can handle up to 3 times the current travel demand and incorporate new vehicle types with no degradation in safety or adverse environmental impact on local communities;

(B) protecting the environment;

(C) promoting the security of the Nation; and

(D) retaining the leadership of the United States in global aviation.

(7) Human and robotic exploration of the solar system will be a significant long term undertaking of humanity in the 21st century and beyond, and it is in the national interest that the United States should assume a leadership role in a cooperative international exploration initiative.

(8) Developing United States human space flight capabilities to allow independent American access to the International Space Station, and to explore beyond low Earth orbit, is a strategically important national imperative, and all prudent steps should thus be taken to bring the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle to full operational capability as soon as practicable.

(9) NASA’s scientific research activities have contributed much to the advancement of knowledge, provided societal benefits, and helped train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and those activities should continue to be an important priority.

(10) NASA should make a sustained commitment to a robust long-term technology development activity. Such investments represent the critically important `seed corn’ on which NASA’s ability to carry out challenging and productive missions in the future will depend.

(11) NASA, through its pursuit of challenging and relevant activities, can provide an important stimulus to the next generation to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

(12) Commercial activities have substantially contributed to the strength of both the United States space program and the national economy, and the development of a healthy and robust United States commercial space sector should continue to be encouraged.

(13) It is in the national interest for the United States to have an export control policy that protects the national security while also enabling the United States aerospace industry to compete effectively in the global market place and the United States to undertake cooperative programs in science and human space flight in an effective and efficient manner.

Data Continuity:

TITLE II–EARTH SCIENCE
SEC. 205. LANDSAT THERMAL INFRARED DATA CONTINUITY.

(a) Plan- In view of the importance of Landsat thermal infrared data for both scientific research and water management applications, the Administrator shall prepare a plan for ensuring the continuity of Landsat thermal infrared data or its equivalent, including allocation of costs and responsibility for the collection and distribution of the data, and a budget plan. As part of the plan, the Administrator shall provide an option for developing a thermal infrared sensor at minimum cost to be flown on the Landsat Data Continuity Mission with minimum delay to the schedule of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission.

(b) Deadline- The plan shall be provided to Congress not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

International Cooperation:

TITLE IV–INTERNATIONAL EXPLORATION INITIATIVE
SEC. 401. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

It is the sense of Congress that the President of the United States should invite America’s friends and allies to participate in a long-term international initiative under the leadership of the United States to expand human and robotic presence into the solar system, including the exploration and utilization of the Moon, near Earth asteroids, Lagrangian points, and eventually Mars and its moons, among other exploration and utilization goals.

Lunar Exploration:

SEC. 403. LUNAR OUTPOST.

(a) Establishment- As NASA works toward the establishment of a lunar outpost, NASA shall make no plans that would require a lunar outpost to be occupied to maintain its viability. Any such outpost shall be operable as a human-tended facility capable of remote or autonomous operation for extended periods.

(b) Designation- The United States portion of the first human-tended outpost established on the surface of the Moon shall be designated the `Neil A. Armstrong Lunar Outpost’.

(c) Congressional Intent- It is the intent of Congress that NASA shall make use of commercial services to the maximum extent practicable in support of its lunar outpost activities.

Mars Exploration:

SEC. 503. MARS EXPLORATION.

Congress reaffirms its support for a systematic, integrated program of exploration of the Martian surface to examine the planet whose surface is most like Earth’s, to search for evidence of past or present life, and to examine Mars for future habitability and as a long-term goal for future human exploration.

International Space Station:

Subtitle A–International Space Station

SEC. 601. UTILIZATION.

The Administrator shall take all necessary steps to ensure that the International Space Station remains a viable and productive facility capable of potential United States utilization through at least 2020 and shall take no steps that would preclude its continued operation and utilization by the United States after 2016.

SEC. 602. RESEARCH MANAGEMENT PLAN.

(a) Research Management Plan- The Administrator shall develop a research management plan for the International Space Station. The plan shall include a process for selecting and prioritizing research activities (including fundamental, applied, commercial, and other research) for flight on the International Space Station. This plan shall be used to prioritize resources such as crew time, racks and equipment, and United States access to international research facilities and equipment. The plan shall also identify the organization to be responsible for managing United States research on the International Space Station, including a description of the relationship of the management institution with NASA (e.g., internal NASA office, contract, cooperative agreement, or grant), the estimated length of time for the arrangement, and the budget required to support the management institution. The plan shall be developed in consultation with other Federal agencies, academia, industry, and other relevant stakeholders. The plan shall be transmitted to Congress not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

(b) Access to National Laboratory- The Administrator shall–

(1) establish a process by which to support International Space Station National Laboratory users in identifying their requirements for transportation of research supplies to and from the International Space Station, and for communicating those requirements to NASA and International Space Station transportation services providers; and

(2) develop an estimate of the transportation requirements needed to support users of the International Space Station National Laboratory and develop a plan for satisfying those requirements by dedicating a portion of volume on NASA supply missions to the International Space Station and missions returning from the International Space Station to Earth.

(c) Assessment- The Administrator shall–

(1) identify existing research equipment and racks and support equipment that are manifested for flight; and

(2) provide a detailed description of the status of research equipment and facilities that were completed or in development prior to being cancelled, and provide the budget and milestones for completing and preparing the equipment for flight on the International Space Station.

(d) Advisory Committee- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall establish an advisory panel under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to monitor the activities and management of the International Space Station National Laboratory.

SEC. 603. CONTINGENCY PLAN FOR CARGO RESUPPLY.

(a) In General- The International Space Station represents a significant investment of national resources, and it is a facility that embodies a cooperative international approach to the exploration and utilization of space. As such, it is important that its continued viability and productivity be ensured, to the maximum extent possible, after the Space Shuttle is retired.

(b) Contingency Plan- The Administrator shall develop a contingency plan and arrangements, including use of International Space Station international partner cargo resupply capabilities, to ensure the continued viability and productivity of the International Space Station in the event that United States commercial cargo resupply services are not available during any extended period after the date that the Space Shuttle is retired. The plan shall be delivered to the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act.

The Space Shuttle:

Subtitle B–Space Shuttle

SEC. 611. FLIGHT MANIFEST.

(a) Baseline Manifest- In addition to the Space Shuttle flights listed as part of the baseline flight manifest as of January 1, 2008, the Utilization flights ULF-4 and ULF-5 shall be considered part of the Space Shuttle baseline flight manifest and shall be flown prior to the retirement of the Space Shuttle.

(b) Additional Flight To Deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station- In addition to the flying of the baseline manifest as described in subsection (a), the Administrator shall take all necessary steps to fly one additional Space Shuttle flight to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station prior to the retirement of the Space Shuttle.

(c) Space Shuttle Retirement Date- The Space Shuttle shall be retired following the completion of the baseline flight manifest and the flight of the additional flight specified in subsection (b), events that are anticipated to occur in 2010.

SEC. 612. DISPOSITION OF SHUTTLE-RELATED ASSETS.

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall provide a plan to Congress for the disposition of the remaining Space Shuttle orbiters and other Space Shuttle program-related hardware and facilities after the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet. The plan shall include a process by which educational institutions and science museums and other appropriate organizations may acquire, through loan or disposal by the Federal Government, Space Shuttle program-related hardware. The Administrator shall not dispose of any Space Shuttle-related hardware prior to the completion of the plan.

SEC. 613. SPACE SHUTTLE TRANSITION LIAISON OFFICE.

(a) Establishment- The Administrator shall establish an office within NASA’s Office of Human Capital Management that shall assist local communities affected by the termination of the Space Shuttle program. The office shall offer technical assistance and serve as a clearinghouse to assist communities in identifying services available from other Federal agencies.

(b) Sunset- The Office established under subsection (a) shall cease operations 24 months after the last Space Shuttle flight.

NEOs and Arecibo:

TITLE VIII–NEAR-EARTH OBJECTS
SEC. 801. IN GENERAL.

The Congress reaffirms the policy direction established in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-155) for NASA to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical characteristics of near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter. NASA’s Near-Earth Object program activities will also provide benefits to NASA’s scientific and exploration activities.

SEC. 802. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Near-Earth objects pose a serious and credible threat to humankind, as many scientists believe that a major asteroid or comet was responsible for the mass extinction of the majority of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs, nearly 65,000,000 years ago.

(2) Several such near-Earth objects have only been discovered within days of the objects’ closest approach to Earth and recent discoveries of such large objects indicate that many large near-Earth objects remain undiscovered.

(3) Asteroid and comet collisions rank as one of the most costly natural disasters that can occur.

(4) The time needed to eliminate or mitigate the threat of a collision of a potentially hazardous near-Earth object with Earth is measured in decades.

(5) Unlike earthquakes and hurricanes, asteroids and comets can provide adequate collision information, enabling the United States to include both asteroid-collision and comet-collision disaster recovery and disaster avoidance in its public-safety structure.

(6) Basic information is needed for technical and policy decisionmaking for the United States to create a comprehensive program in order to be ready to eliminate and mitigate the serious and credible threats to humankind posed by potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids and comets.

(7) As a first step to eliminate and to mitigate the risk of such collisions, situation and decision analysis processes, as well as procedures and system resources, must be in place well before a collision threat becomes known.
. . .

SEC. 806. ARECIBO OBSERVATORY.

Congress reiterates its support for the use of the Arecibo Observatory for NASA-funded near-Earth object-related activities. The Administrator shall ensure the availability of the Arecibo Observatory’s planetary radar to support these activities until the National Academies’ review of NASA’s approach for the survey and deflection of near-Earth objects, including a determination of the role of Arecibo, that was directed to be undertaken by the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act, is completed.

COTS and Commercial Space Capabilities:

TITLE IX–COMMERCIAL INITIATIVES

SEC. 901. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

It is the sense of Congress that a healthy and robust commercial sector can make significant contributions to the successful conduct of NASA’s space exploration program. While some activities are inherently governmental in nature, there are many other activities, such as routine supply of water, fuel, and other consumables to low Earth orbit or to destinations beyond low Earth orbit, and provision of power or communications services to lunar outposts, that potentially could be carried out effectively and efficiently by the commercial sector at some point in the future. Congress encourages NASA to look for such service opportunities and, to the maximum extent practicable, make use of the commercial sector to provide those services.

SEC. 902. COMMERCIAL CREW INITIATIVE.

(a) In General- In order to stimulate commercial use of space, help maximize the utility and productivity of the International Space Station, and enable a commercial means of providing crew transfer and crew rescue services for the International Space Station, NASA shall–

(1) make use of United States commercially provided International Space Station crew transfer and crew rescue services to the maximum extent practicable, if those commercial services have demonstrated the capability to meet NASA-specified ascent, entry, and International Space Station proximity operations safety requirements;

(2) limit, to the maximum extent practicable, the use of the Crew Exploration Vehicle to missions carrying astronauts beyond low Earth orbit once commercial crew transfer and crew rescue services that meet safety requirements become operational;

(3) facilitate, to the maximum extent practicable, the transfer of NASA-developed technologies to potential United States commercial crew transfer and rescue service providers, consistent with United States law; and

(4) issue a notice of intent, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, to enter into a funded, competitively awarded Space Act Agreement with two or more commercial entities for a Phase 1 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) crewed vehicle demonstration program.

(b) COTS Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated to NASA for the program described in subsection (a)(4) $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2009, to remain available until expended.

(c) Congressional Intent- It is the intent of Congress that funding for the program described in subsection (a)(4) shall not come at the expense of full funding for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle development, Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle development, or International Space Station cargo delivery.

(d) Additional Technologies Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated to NASA for the provision of International Space Station-compatible docking adaptors and other relevant technologies to be made available to the commercial crew providers selected to service the International Space Station $50,000,000, to remain available until expended.

(e) Crew Transfer and Crew Rescue Services Contract- If a commercial provider demonstrates the capability to provide International Space Station crew transfer and crew rescue services and to satisfy NASA ascent, entry, and International Space Station proximity operations safety requirements, NASA shall enter into an International Space Station crew transfer and crew rescue services contract with that commercial provider for a portion of NASA’s anticipated International Space Station crew transfer and crew rescue requirements from the time the commercial provider commences operations under contract with NASA through calendar year 2016, with an option to extend the period of performance through calendar year 2020.

Space Traffic Management:

SEC. 1102. SPACE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT.

(a) In General- As more nations acquire the capabilities for launching payloads into outer space, there is an increasing need for a framework under which information intended to promote safe access into outer space, operations in outer space, and return from outer space to Earth free from physical or radio-frequency interference can be shared among those nations.

(b) Discussions- The Administrator, in consultation with other appropriate agencies of the Federal Government, shall initiate discussions with the appropriate representatives of other spacefaring nations with the goal of determining an appropriate framework under which information intended to promote safe access into outer space, operations in outer space, and return from outer space to Earth free from physical or radio-frequency interference can be shared among those nations.

Export Controls:

SEC. 1103. STUDY OF EXPORT CONTROL POLICIES RELATED TO CIVIL AND COMMERCIAL SPACE ACTIVITIES.

(a) Review- The Director of OSTP shall carry out a study of the impact of current export control policies and implementation directives on the United States aerospace industry and its competitiveness in global markets, and on the ability of United States Government agencies to carry out cooperative activities in science and technology and human space flight, including the impact on research carried out under the sponsorship of those agencies.

(b) Consultation- In carrying out the study, the Director shall seek input from industry, academia, representatives of the science community, all affected United States Government agencies, and any other appropriate organizations and individuals.

(c) Report- The Director shall provide a report detailing the findings and recommendations of the study to the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate not later than 9 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

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