A notional concept of a solar-electric-powered spacecraft, designed to capture a small near-Earth asteroid and relocate it safely close to the Earth-moon system so astronauts can explore it. (NASA)
A draft spending bill from the House would drop funding for President Obama’s proposed asteroid retrieval project and steer funding back toward lunar exploration, according to a story on SpaceNews.com.
“It is the policy of the United States that the development of capabilities and technologies necessary for human missions to lunar orbit, the surface of the moon, the surface of Mars and beyond shall be the goals of the Administration’s human spaceflight program,” the bill states.
“The Administrator shall not fund the development of an asteroid retrieval mission to send a robotic spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid for rendezvous, retrieval and redirection of that asteroid to lunar orbit for exploration by astronauts,” the bill states.
The House Science space subcommittee’s NASA Authorization Act of 2013, obtained by SpaceNews June 14, would cap NASA spending at about $16.87 billion for the next two years, overhaul the agency’s management structure and raise the spending cap for Commercial Crew activities while increasing congressional oversight of the program.
The House Science space subcommittee will discuss the bill in a hearing Wednesday June 19, the site said. The Senate Commerce Committee, meanwhile, is “not too far behind” its House counterpart in finishing its own version of the next NASA Authorization bill, Ann Zulkowsky, a senior aide in the Democrat-controlled Senate, said June 14 at the Aerospace 2013 conference in Arlington, Va., organized by Women in Aerospace.
There has been a notable lack of enthusiasm for the asteroid mission among some of the Republicans who hold key NASA oversight roles in the House — including House Science Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) — since the mission was proposed.
Read more on the proposed NASA budget at SpaceNews.com.