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house Bill H.R. 4945

Does U.S. Space Strategy Need an Overhaul?

Argument in favor

The U.S. space industry has reached a crossroads, as private sector space companies are growing and taking on new responsibilities while NASA is figuring out its next goals. This is the perfect time to remake U.S. space strategy and set bold goals for the next few decades.

doliverksu's Opinion
···
07/29/2016
As Dr Neil Degrasse Tyson has pointed out, NASA's budget is depleted and weak despite being responsible for so many technological innovations. Many discoveries and inventions to come from NASA have found their way into everyday lives of Americans. Updating and improving NASA and other relevant programs will yield great benefits to society.
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JonDep's Opinion
···
07/29/2016
Restructure NASA but don't box out competition. Let other companies compete with our government for sure
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07/29/2016
There are several items that must be addressed if the United States is to remain an active leader in human space exploration. First, the clock is running on the ISS: its replacement, or not, must be on the US and international agendas. NASA is pushing to extend the ISS beyond 2020, but that even if done only delays the question of what next? Second, the US must overcome its internal divisions and agree on a realistically funded NASA program. John Kennedy and Apollo are not returning, nor are the Chinese currently the reincarnation of the 1960s Soviets who inspired the original competition. Future space exploration must be grounded in a sense that what is decided is important. Ultimately, there is a way forward for the US human space exploration program, if all the stakeholders involved—NASA, the White House, Congress, and the American people—realize the future cannot look like the past.
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Argument opposed

It’s one thing for NASA, the president, the DOD and all the other agencies to come up with the plans this bill requires them to create, and another to make them reality. There’s just too many different aspects of space policy affected by this bill to expect them all to be implemented well.

operaman's Opinion
···
07/29/2016
Lofty goals. The US space program has been drifting since the Shuttles were retired. Today's it seems that NASA is a club for aging engineers finishing out their careers. Yes, great discoveries have occurred, but many began a decade ago. Private space companies have produced wonderful ideas like vertical upright landing of rocket boosters. And soon private space will again take and return Astronauts from the International space station. All the the big space plans are occurring in private companies. (Check out behindtheblack.com for future private space programs). No, NASA needs to retire itself, but there is a need for new space agreements. Allow private space to spend investors capital for profit and not allowing NASA to become a money pit.
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Brian's Opinion
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07/29/2016
Let private companies take over for space travel.
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William's Opinion
···
08/01/2016
I couldn't think of a bigger waist of money then flying spaceships to Mars. The technological innovation created by space programs can be funded directly instead of as a side effect of a pointless venture (such as engineering education programs). Private industry to space reinforces our economy, but this is an unnecessary taxpayer expense to it. If you want to see space travel, then donate your own money not on the taxpayer's dime. The whole point of taxation with representation is that public services benefit our citizens, which space programs fail to do.
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What is House Bill H.R. 4945?

This bill would aim to reform U.S. space policy by setting goals for the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) and other relevant federal agencies. Among the things NASA would be asked to do include a 20-year plan with broad goals (including a five-year window for astronauts to go to Mars), and a 10-year plan that addresses the feasibility of the Asteroid Redirect Mission. It would also task the president with developing a doctrine to ensure the U.S., its allies, and partners can maintain access to space in the face of adversaries trying to deny access or destroy space assets, and give the military rules of engagement for space forces.

In general, U.S. aeronautical and space activities would be required to:

  • Make contributions to the expansion of mankind’s sphere of influence throughout the solar system;

  • Involve being among the first to arrive at a destination in space and open it for subsequent use and development;

  • Create an infrastructure of precursors to support future use and development of space.

NASA would be required to develop the following:

  • A 20-year plan that outlines broad goals and includes a designated five-year range for American astronauts to land on Mars;

  • A 10-year plan that, in part, addresses the feasibility of the Asteroid Redirect Mission;

  • Multi-year budgets for NASA operations starting with its fiscal year 2018 budge;

  • A plan for the remaining life of the International Space Station to keep a continued human presence in low-Earth orbit;

  • A Commercial Habitat Pilot Program to demonstrate the viability of using commercially built on-orbit habitats to meet NASA human exploration and science missions.

The president would be required to develop two doctrines related to U.S. space policy:

  • A doctrine for the response of the U.S. Armed Forces and intelligence community to attempts by foreign government and nonstate actors to deny the U.S. and its partners access to space, or to damage or destroy government or commercial space assets.

  • A doctrine for the Armed Forces that articulates rules of engagement for space forces.

The Dept. of Defense (DOD) would be required to develop a strategy for its space and cyberspace operations can electronically share situational awareness data and assess how that data is protected to better integrate commercial space systems into national security space systems. 

A new federal entity would be established within the Dept. of Transportation (DOT), known as the Office of Commercial Space Transportation to support and establish commercial spaceports in the U.S. The DOT would also designate a lead government agency that’s responsible for space traffic management activities and services.

The Dept. of Commerce would report to Congress about the benefits and practicality of reorganizing its activities to better support its space-related economic and regulatory activities. It would also make loan guarantees to a domestic commercial space business or a Federal Aviation Administration-licensed spaceport to promote the growth of the U.S. space sector.

Impact

The commercial space industry; federal agencies such as NASA, the DOD, the DOT, the Dept. of Commerce and others; and the president.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4945

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) introduced this bill not because he believed that it would pass in its current form, but because he believes in the many individual policies encompassed by the bill and wants them to be adopted piecemeal or with other legislation:

“Friends, this is our Sputnik moment. America must forever be the preeminent spacefaring nation. That’s why I believe it’s time for the American Space Renaissance Act. This bill will serve as a repository for the best space reform ideas. Many of its policies can be inserted into other bills that will pass.”

Elements of this legislation were included in the House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, which passed on a 277-147 vote in May 2016 but has yet to be considered by the Senate.


Of NoteNASA has begun planning a mission to deep space that will involve the capture and redirection of an asteroid so that it will orbit the Moon, after which other missions throughout the 2020s will study the asteroid and bring samples back to Earth. It views this mission as a proving ground for technologies that will be needed for a manned mission to Mars, aside from the research it will provide in its own right.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: NASA)

AKA

American Space Renaissance Act

Official Title

To permanently secure the United States as the preeminent spacefaring nation, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Space and Aeronautics
      Committee on Armed Services
      Strategic Forces
      Trade
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Communications and Technology
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Committee on Rules
      Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Aviation
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedApril 14th, 2016
    As Dr Neil Degrasse Tyson has pointed out, NASA's budget is depleted and weak despite being responsible for so many technological innovations. Many discoveries and inventions to come from NASA have found their way into everyday lives of Americans. Updating and improving NASA and other relevant programs will yield great benefits to society.
    Like (48)
    Follow
    Share
    Lofty goals. The US space program has been drifting since the Shuttles were retired. Today's it seems that NASA is a club for aging engineers finishing out their careers. Yes, great discoveries have occurred, but many began a decade ago. Private space companies have produced wonderful ideas like vertical upright landing of rocket boosters. And soon private space will again take and return Astronauts from the International space station. All the the big space plans are occurring in private companies. (Check out behindtheblack.com for future private space programs). No, NASA needs to retire itself, but there is a need for new space agreements. Allow private space to spend investors capital for profit and not allowing NASA to become a money pit.
    Like (12)
    Follow
    Share
    Restructure NASA but don't box out competition. Let other companies compete with our government for sure
    Like (20)
    Follow
    Share
    There are several items that must be addressed if the United States is to remain an active leader in human space exploration. First, the clock is running on the ISS: its replacement, or not, must be on the US and international agendas. NASA is pushing to extend the ISS beyond 2020, but that even if done only delays the question of what next? Second, the US must overcome its internal divisions and agree on a realistically funded NASA program. John Kennedy and Apollo are not returning, nor are the Chinese currently the reincarnation of the 1960s Soviets who inspired the original competition. Future space exploration must be grounded in a sense that what is decided is important. Ultimately, there is a way forward for the US human space exploration program, if all the stakeholders involved—NASA, the White House, Congress, and the American people—realize the future cannot look like the past.
    Like (10)
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    It's 2016. Where is the Jetsons lifestyle we were promised? We have gone from being "the first nation to put a man on the moon" to a nation that doesn't even have a working space shuttle anymore? We've gone from the nation that saw the birth of the digital age in its Silicon Valley to a nation with aged, failing infrastructure, a nation that now lags behind on many economic and social statistics where it once not only excelled, but set the standard.
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    Let private companies take over for space travel.
    Like (7)
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    I couldn't think of a bigger waist of money then flying spaceships to Mars. The technological innovation created by space programs can be funded directly instead of as a side effect of a pointless venture (such as engineering education programs). Private industry to space reinforces our economy, but this is an unnecessary taxpayer expense to it. If you want to see space travel, then donate your own money not on the taxpayer's dime. The whole point of taxation with representation is that public services benefit our citizens, which space programs fail to do.
    Like (6)
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    In this point in time, we know more about the minutest details of Earth than any other human being in the history of mankind. Except for the ocean, we have no more "frontiers" due to the fact we have discovered almost everything possible to discover. We need to learn more about space: it's mysteries, it's hazards, it's riches. We know what to do with natural disasters, how to prepare and recover. If an extraterrestrial disaster (asteroid, solar flares, etc) happened to devastatingly affect Earth, do we know how to react? Also for the money side, we are running out many resources that can't be reproduced in a lab or naturally; is there a planet that we can mine or an asteroid carrying said resources that companies could potentially tap into?
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    Absolutely, NASA is a bureaucratic mess where government officials in D.C decide what the budget for our space plan is. Progress have been impeded for years because of publicized space exploration. The answer is simple: we privatize space research and let companies with a budget solely devoted to space exploration.
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    Sharing space, asteroid destruction, purposeful exploration: 👍🏼
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    Our future may depend on them one day
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    As a strong conservative, I maintain the idea that even though the private sector can be more efficuent, they have an interest in profit. NASA has the people of the USof and the world in its interest.
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    Reading the content of the bill bought a smile to my face. Space is the final frontier and we must explore it for the survival of mankind. Also, this bill would create new agencies which will lead to more jobs.
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    I have seen votes for nay saying 'lets go private and eliminate NASA all together', however I do believe there is a place for both the public and private spheres. While it was said that some of these discoveries began a decade ago, how long did it take is to finish the human genome project? Science and discovery take time, and cannot be rushed. I do also believe that with this bill we can breath a new life into our space program, and even perhaps build a partnership between NASA and the private space firms.
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    NASA is the least critical and constitutional thing our government does - except for every other thing our government does - and the only overhaul that is appropriate is a complete privatization of it.
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    At one time the UNTIED STATES OF AMERICA had 4 or 5 space shuttles and was the envy of the world! NASA is and was the ultimate technology wizard of our government!! We need to go back to having that glory again!! Why are we going to Mars? What's the point? We need to look at the moon and work on that as well as SETI, JUNO and carious other projects at this point! Why are we not settling on the moon? Why not work on newer projects like building a new type of shuttles and have them become a thing to which we can reuse like the shuttles in the 80's and 90's!
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    In the years of the Cold War, the U.S. Spent billions researching technologies to defeat the USSR. After the fall of communism, the space race fell apart and we nearly halted all space travel compared to what it had been in the years prior. If only we could research technologies still without the need of war for it.
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    Let the private sector take over until the national debt is manageable.
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    We don't need to spend more money on space exploration right now while we are in $20,000,000,000 in debt.
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    Money spent by taxpayers in space is like throwing money into the vacuum. Let the market, like Branson, develop a space market. If no one is interested to invest, probably not a good idea to take money from workers to pour into the abyss.
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