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Congress reaches agreement on 2002 NASA budget
Posted: Thu, Nov 8, 2001, 1:00 PM ET (1800 GMT)
US Capitol A House-Senate conference committee agreed Wednesday on a $14.8-billion budget for NASA for fiscal year 2002 that includes funding for a Pluto mission but not for a space station crew return vehicle. The conference committee met to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget bill that includes NASA, other independent agencies, and the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development. The Senate version provided $14.5 billion for NASA, per President Bush's request, while the House's version added several hundred million. Conferees decided not to include $275 million for a space station crew return vehicle that the House added to the budget, citing concerns that current ISS plans are "ill-defined" and that more studies are needed before any funding for a CRV should be provided. Conferees also agreed to transfer $284 million in ISS research funds into NASA's biological and physical research account, to keep it safe from ISS cost overruns. The committee also provided $30 million to support initial development of a Pluto mission; such funding was in the Senate version of the budget but not in the House's. Other actions by the committee included the addition of $20 million for high-priority shuttle safety upgrades, $10 million more for the Sun-Earth Connections space science program, and $3 million for space solar power studies. The committee left largely untouched $465 million for the Space Launch Initiative program. The committee's report is expected to be approved by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bush in the next few days.
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