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2017 Highlights


The Future of American Leadership and Exploration in Space is Secure


On March 21, 2017 President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Cruz-Nelson NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 into law. 

"The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 will restore stability and certainty to NASA and the future of the U.S. space program,” Sen. Cruz said. “Space exploration has fostered extraordinary economic growth and job creation for the State of Texas and the entire nation. Drafted and passed in a bipartisan manner, this legislation enables commercial space ventures to flourish and ensures NASA has the clarity of purpose and confidence it needs to continue to grow and improve upon what it does best: lead the world in space exploration. By charting an ambitious course for the manned exploration of the moon, Mars and beyond, this legislation champions America’s leadership in space, and ensures the Johnson Space Center remains the crown jewel of NASA’s human spaceflight missions. I am grateful for my colleagues’ dedication to the future of our nation’s leadership in space, and commend the President for signing this legislation into law.” 

As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, Sen. Cruz previously worked with his colleagues to secure the passage of the 2015 Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, legislation which received bipartisan support and praise from various space industry leaders. This legislation extends the International Space Station until 2024 and ensures stability for the future development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector in Texas and the entire nation.

Highlights of S. 442, The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017: 

Sustaining National Space Commitments and Utilizing the International Space Station 

  • Support for Continuity – Affirms Congress’ support for sustained space investments across presidential administrations to advance recent achievements in space exploration and space science. This includes the development of the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and the Orion crew vehicle for deep space exploration, maximizing utilization of the International Space Station (ISS), the James Webb Space Telescope, and continued commitment to a national, government-led space program. 
  • International Space Station – Supports full and complete utilization of the ISS through at least 2024, and the use of private sector companies partnering with NASA to deliver cargo and experiments. Also facilitates the development of vehicles to transport astronauts from U.S. soil to end our reliance on Russian launches for crew transport. 
  • Facilitating Commercialization and Economic Development of Low-Earth Orbit – Requires NASA to submit a report to Congress outlining a plan to facilitate a transformation of operations in low-earth orbit from a model largely reliant on government support to one reflecting a more commercially viable future. 

Advancing Human Deep Space Exploration

  • Journey to Mars – Amends current law by adding human exploration of Mars as one of the goals and objectives of NASA and directs NASA to manage human space flight programs to enable humans to explore Mars and other destinations. Requires NASA to develop and submit a plan to Congress on a strategic framework and critical decision plan based on current technologies to achieve the exploration goals and objectives.
  • Development of Deep Space Capabilities – Directs NASA to continue the development of the Space Launch System and Orion for a broad deep space mission set, with specific milestones for an uncrewed exploration mission by 2018 and a crewed exploration mission by 2021. 

Medical Monitoring of Astronauts 

  • Medical Effects of Space – Authorizes NASA to provide for the medical monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of astronauts, including scientific and medical tests for psychological and medical conditions deemed by NASA to be associated with human space flight.
  • Recognizing Impact of Scott Kelly’s 340 Days in Space –Gives recognition that the 340-day space mission of Scott Kelly aboard the ISS generated new insight into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation, and the stress of long-duration space flight and will help support the physical and mental well-being of astronauts during longer space exploration missions in the future.

For full text of the legislation, please click here.

Historic Opportunites Lie Ahead in 2017

Now is the moment to return to the Constitution and restore integrity to our government by enacting policies that grow our economy, create jobs, protect our freedoms, and secure our nation. I am honored to represent each and every one of you and will continue to fight for you every day. Here’s to all that we will accomplish together in the coming year


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