As one of her last acts as a United States Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, along with Sen. Bill Nelson and several others, attached an amendment to a bill extending a launch liability act that states support for the International Space Station, technology development, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System, and the commercial crew program, according to AOL.com.
“Section 203 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (42 U.S.C. 18313) is amended by adding at the end the following:
“`(c) Sense of Congress Regarding Human Space Flight Capability Assurance- It is the sense of Congress that the Administrator shall proceed with the utilization of the ISS, technology development, and follow-on transportation systems (including the Space Launch System, multi-purpose crew vehicle, and commercial crew and cargo transportation capabilities) under titles III and IV of this Act in a manner that ensures--
“`(1) that these capabilities remain inherently complementary and interrelated;
“`(2) a balance of the development, sustainment, and use of each of these capabilities, which are of critical importance to the viability and sustainability of the U.S. space program; and
“`(3) that resources required to support the timely and sustainable development of these capabilities authorized in either title III or title IV of this Act are not derived from a reduction in resources for the capabilities authorized in the other title.”
The reason this amendment was attached to an unrelated bill was that Congress believed it had to remind the Obama administration what its priorities for NASA are in an era of tight budgets and exploding deficits. Conspicuous by its absence was any mention of planetary science programs, such as the Mars Curiosity rover, whose budget was cut by the Obama administration early in 2012.