Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (07/22/2005)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 - Title I: General Principles and Reports - ( Sec. 101) Directs the Administrator (the Administrator) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to ensure that NASA carries out a balanced set of programs that include: (1) human space flight; (2) aeronautics research and development; and (3) scientific research.

Requires the Administrator to manage human space flight programs to strive to achieve: (1) returning Americans to the moon by 2020; (2) launching the Crew Exploration Vehicle close to 2010; (3) increasing knowledge of the impacts of long stays in space on the human body; and (4) enabling humans to land on and return from Mars and other destinations.

Directs the President, through the Administrator, to develop a national aeronautics policy to guide NASA aeronautics programs through 2020, which shall include priority areas of research through FY2011.

Directs the Administrator to develop: (1) a policy to guide NASA science programs through 2016 which includes addressing plans for a human mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope; and (2) a plan for managing NASA's facilities through FY2015.

Directs the Administrator to develop a human capital strategy through FY2011 to ensure that NASA has an appropriate workforce to carry out NASA programs. Requires NASA to provide a draft of the strategy to its federal employee unions for a 30-day consultation period. Prohibits NASA from: (1) initiating any buyout offer until 60 days after the strategy has been transmitted to Congress; and (2) implementing any Reduction in Force or other involuntary separations (except for cause) prior to February 16, 2007.

Requires the Administrator to study whether any of NASA's centers should be operated by or with the private sector by converting a center to a federally funded research and development center or through any other mechanism.

Describes the documents that shall accompany proposed NASA budgets submitted by the President.

Requires NASA to make available information on corporate and center general and administrative costs and service pool costs.

Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to commission an independent review of the Nation's long-term strategic needs for test facilities. Prohibits the Administrator from closing or mothballing any aeronautical test facilities identified in a specified 2003 independent assessment by the RAND Corporation as being part of the minimum set of those facilities necessary to retain and serve national needs, as well as any other non-aeronautical NASA test facilities that were in use as of January 1, 2004, until such review has been transmitted to Congress.

(Sec. 102) Directs the Administrator to submit specified separate reports concerning: (1) the International Space Station (ISS), including the operation of the ISS in the event that the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 is not amended; (2) the use of the Space Shuttle before its retirement; (3) the launch vehicle for the Crew Exploration vehicle; (4) any heavy lift vehicle NASA intends to develop; (5) lunar missions; (6) Project Prometheus; and (7) the cost increase for the James Webb Space Telescope.

Prohibits the Administrator from entering into a development contract for the Crew Exploration Vehicle until at least 30 days after the Administrator has transmitted a report describing: (1) the expected cost of such vehicle through FY2020; (2) the expected budgets for each fiscal year through FY2020 for human space flight, aeronautics, space science, and earth science; and (3) the extent to which such vehicle will allow for the escape of crew in an emergency.

Directs the Administrator to: (1) develop a plan for updating NASA's space communications architecture for both low Earth orbital operations and deep space exploration so that it is capable of meeting NASA's needs over the next 20 years; and (2) transmit a plan describing the activities that will be undertaken as part of the national awareness campaign required by a specified congressional report and the expected cost of such activities.

Requires the Administrator and the Director of the Department of Energy Office of Science to report on plans for a Joint Dark Energy Mission.

Directs the Administrator to develop a transition plan for federal and contractor personnel engaged in the Space Shuttle program.

Requires the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to conduct a study to determine: (1) if any NASA research and development programs are unnecessarily duplicating aspects of programs of other federal agencies; and (2) if any such programs are neglecting any topics of national interest that are related to the mission of NASA.

Directs the Administrator to transmit quarterly reports on the NASA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Prohibits NASA from contracting for the development phase of a major program unless the Administrator determines that certain risk management requirements are met. Bars the Administrator from delegating such determination requirement, except in cases in which the Administrator has a conflict of interest.

Requires the Administrator to transmit annual reports on each major program for which NASA proposes to spend funds on, the first of which such reports shall include a baseline report. Sets forth requirements for the notification and determination of: (1) the development cost of a major program that is likely to exceed the estimate provided in the baseline report for the program by thresholds of 15% or more; or (2) a program milestone that is likely to be delayed by six months or more. Establishes, in addition, requirements for programs when costs will exceed the lower of 30% or $1 billlion.

(Sec. 104) Authorizes NASA to to award competitive cash prizes to stimulate innovation in research, technology development, and prototype demonstration that have the potential for application to NASA space and aeronautics activities.

(Sec. 105) Prohibits NASA from: (1) launching a mission on a foreign launch vehicle, except in accordance with the Space Transportation Policy announced by the President on December 21, 2004; and (2) launching a mission on a foreign launch vehicle unless NASA commenced the interagency coordination required under such Policy at least 90 days before entering into a development contract for the mission. Prohibits the application of this section to any mission for which development has begun prior to enactment of this Act, including the James Webb Space Telescope.

(Sec. 106) Amends the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act, 1968 to: (1) include coverage evaluating NASA's compliance with the return-to-flight and continue-to-fly recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board as part of the review of safety studies and operations plans by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel; (2) provide for the Panel to advise Congress (currently, just the Administrator); (3) require the Panel to advise Congress and the Administrator with respect to management and culture; and (4) require the Panel to submit annual reports, including in the first report an evaluation of NASA's safety management culture. Requires each annual report to include an evaluation of NASA's compliance with the recommendations of the Board.

(Sec. 107) Requires the Administrator to: (1) transmit an implementation plan describing NASA's approach for obtaining, implementing, and sharing lessons learned and best practices for its major programs and projects; and (2) provide incentives to encourage sharing and implementation of lessons learned and best practices by employees, projects, and programs, as well as penalties for programs and projects that have not demonstrated use of those resources.

(Sec. 108) Requires the Administrator to develop a commercialization plan to: (1) support human missions to the Moon and Mars; (2) support low-Earth orbit activities and Earth science missions and applications; and (3) transfer science research and technology to society.

(Sec. 109) Directs the Administrator to conduct a feasibility study on the use of ground source heat pumps in future NASA facilities or substantial renovation of existing NASA facilities involving the installation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems.

(Sec. 110) Expresses the sense of Congress that, in keeping with the President's Vision for Space Exploration, the Space Shuttle should return to flight as soon as a flight can be accomplished with an acceptable level of safety.

(Sec. 111) Requires the Administrator to transmit a plan describing steps to be taken by NASA to protect the employment status of NASA employees who raise or have raised concerns about a potentially catastrophic risk to health or safety.

Title II: Authorization of Appropriations - (Sec. 201) Specifies a structure for NASA budget accounts.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes appropriations to NASA for FY2006-FY2007 for: (1) science, aeronautics, and education; (2) exploration systems; (3) space operations; and (4) the Office of Inspector General.

(Sec. 204) Instructs the Administrator to allocate at least 15% of the funds budgeted for ISS research to research that is not directly related to supporting the human exploration program.

(Sec. 205) Directs the Administrator to establish a policy of charging users of NASA's test facilities for the costs associated with their tests at a level that is competitive with alternative test facilities. Requires the establishment of a funding account that shall be used for all test facilities.

(Sec. 211) Amends the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2000 to repeal cost limitations for the ISS.

Title III: Science - Subtitle A: General Provisions - (Sec. 301) Requires the performance of each discipline in the Science account of NASA to be reviewed and assessed by the National Academy of Sciences at five-year intervals. Requires the Administrator to transmit the results of any such review, actions taken by NASA in response to any such review, and findings and recommendations from any other relevant external reviews of NASA's science mission priorities and programs.

(Sec. 302) Expresses the sense of the Congress with respect to a servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. Requires the Administrator: (1) upon successful completion of the planned return-to-flight schedule of the Space Shuttle, to determine the schedule for a Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble, unless such a mission would compromise astronaut safety; and (2) not later than 60 days after the landing of the second Space Shuttle mission for return-to-flight certification, to transmit a status report on plans for a Hubble servicing mission.

(Sec. 303) Directs the Administrator to seek an independent assessment of the costs as well as the technical, cost, and schedule risks associated with incorporating the Landsat instrument on the first National Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) spacecraft versus undertaking a dedicated Landsat data "gap-filler" mission followed by the incorporation of the Landsat instrument on the second NPOESS spacecraft.

(Sec. 304) Directs the Administrator to carry out annual termination reviews within each of the science disciplines to assess the costs and benefits of extending the date for terminating data collection for those missions which are beyond their primary goals. Specifies that assessments be carried out for the FAST, TIMED, Cluster, Wind, Geotail, Polar, TRACE, Ulysses, and Voyager missions.

(Sec. 305) Directs the Administrator to carry out specified microgravity research activities.

(Sec. 306) Directs the Administrator and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to appoint a Joint Working Group, which shall review and monitor missions of NASA and NOAA to ensure maximum coordination of the design, operation, and transition of missions. Requires such Administrators to transmit a report on how NASA and NOAA earth science programs will be coordinated.

Directs the Administrator, in conjunction with the NOAA Administrator, to evaluate all NASA missions for their potential operational capabilities and to prepare transition plans for all existing and future Earth observing systems found to have such potential capabilities and all NOAA operational space-based systems. Bars the transfer of any NASA earth science mission or Earth observing system to NOAA until the transition plan has been approved and until financial resources have been identified to support the transition or transfer in the President's budget request for NOAA.

Subtitle B: Remote Sensing - (Sec. 312) Directs the Administrator to establish: (1) a grant program for pilot projects to explore the integrated use of sources of remote sensing and other geospatial information to address state, local, regional and tribal agency needs; and (2) an advisory committee to monitor such grant program.

(Sec. 315) Directs the Administrator to establish an educational out-reach program to increase awareness at institutions of higher education and state, local, regional, and tribal agencies of the potential applications of remote sensing and other geospatial information.

Subtitle C: George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey - (Sec. 321) George E. Brown, Jr. Near-Earth Object Survey Act - Directs the Administrator to implement a Near-Earth object survey program to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical characteristics of near-Earth objects (certain asteroids or comets) equal to greater than 100 meters in diameter in order to assess their threat to the Earth.

Title IV: Aeronautics - Subtitle A: National Policy for Aeronautics Research and Development -

(Sec. 411) Declares a national policy for aeronautical research and development.

Subtitle B: NASA Aeronautics Breakthrough Research Initiatives- (Sec. 421) Authorizes the Administrator to establish an initiative for developing technologies to enable specified commercial aircraft performance characteristics. Directs the Administrator to arrange with the National Research Council to conduct a study to identify and quantify new markets that would be created, as well as existing markets that would be expanded, by incorporating such technologies into future commercial aircraft.

(Sec. 422) Authorizes the Administrator to establish an initiative for developing technologies to enable overland flight of supersonic civil transport aircraft with specified the performance characteristics.

(Sec. 423) Authorizes the Administrator to establish a rotorcraft and other runway-independent air vehicles initiative for developing technologies to enable significantly safer, quieter, and more environmentally compatible operation from a wider range of airports under a wider range of weather conditions than is presently the case.

Subtitle C: Other NASA Aeronautics Research and Development Activities - (Sec. 431) Directs the Administrator to establish a program of long-term fundamental research in aeronautical sciences and technologies that is not tied to specific development projects. Requires the Administrator to arrange with the National Research Council for an assessment of the Nation's future requirements for fundamental aeronautics research.

(Sec. 432) Requires the Airspace Systems Research program to pursue research and development to enable modernization of the National Airspace System as well as to enable the introduction of new systems for vehicles that can take advantage of a modern air transportation system. Instructs the Administrator to align program projects so that they directly support the Joint Planning and Development Office's Next Generation Air Transportation System Integrated Plan.

(Sec. 433) Requires the Aviation Safety and Security Research program to pursue research and development activities that directly address the safety and security needs of the National Airspace System and the aircraft that fly in it.

(Sec. 434) Authorizes the Administrator to establish a zero-emissions aircraft research program for developing concepts to enable a hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft that would have no hydrocarbon or nitrogen oxide emissions into the environment.

(Sec. 435) Authorizes the Administrator to establish a Mars Aircraft project to develop concepts for an uncrewed aircraft that could operate in Mar's atmosphere.

(Sec. 436) Authorizes the Administrator to establish a hypersonics research program to explore the science and technology of hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion concepts.

(Sec. 437) Directs the Administrator to establish a NASA aeronautics scholarship program.

(Sec. 438) Authorizes the Administrator to carry out a collaborative research program with NOAA on convective weather events to significantly improve the reliability of two-hour to six-hour aviation weather forecasts.

(Sec. 439) Authorizes the Administrator to arrange with the National Research Council for an assessment of federal wake turbulence research and development programs.

(Sec. 440) Authorizes the Administrator to award grants to institutions of higher education (or consortia thereof) to establish one or more centers to conduct research on the impact of new technologies and procedures, particularly those related to aeronautical navigation and control.

Title V: Human Space Flight - (Sec. 501) Requires the Administrator to ensure that the ISS will be able to meet specified elements, capabilities, and configuration, including that it will be able to be used for diverse microgravity research.

Requires the transportation plan for supporting the ISS to: (1) include contingency options to support any potential period during which the Space Shuttle or its follow-on crew and cargo systems is unavailable; and (2) require sufficient surge delivery capability or prepositioning of supplies needed for any such hiatus.

Requires the Administrator, before making any change in the ISS assembly sequence, to certify NASA's plan to meet the requirements of this section.

(Sec. 502) Directs the Administrator to: (1) construct an architecture and implementation plan for NASA's human exploration program; and (2) determine the priority of the potential elements of NASA's implementation plan for such program, including development of a Crew Exploration Vehicle (with a crew escape system) and a launch system for such Vehicle.

(Sec. 503) Directs the Comptroller General of the United States to transmit an assessment of the milestones and estimated costs of the plans submitted under this Act for lunar missions.

Title VI: Other Program Areas - Subtitle A: Space and Flight Support - (Sec. 601) Directs the Administrator, in conjunction with the heads of other federal agencies, to take steps to develop or acquire technologies that will enable NASA to decrease the risks associated with orbital debris.

(Sec. 602) Encourages the Administrator to provide the capabilities to support secondary payloads on U.S. launch vehicles for satellites or scientific payloads.

Subtitle B: Education - (Sec. 611) Amends the Department of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 1990 to include coverage to specified minority institutions under requirements for the award of prime and subcontracts by NASA to small businesses and disadvantaged individuals.

(Sec. 612) Directs the Administrator to develop or expand programs to extend science and space educational outreach to rural communities and schools through videoconferencing, interpretive exhibits, teacher education, classroom presentations, and student field trips, and, in carrying out such programs, to give priority to existing programs: (1) that utilize community-based partnerships in the field; (2) that build and maintain video conference and exhibit capacity; (3) that travel directly to rural communities and serve low-income populations; and (4) with a special emphasis on increasing the number of women and minorities in science and engineering professions.

(Sec. 613) Charles "Pete" Conrad Astronomy Awards Act - Directs NASA to establish the Charles "Pete" Conrad Astronomy Awards Program. Requires the Administrator to make an annual award under such program of: (1) $3,000 to the amateur astronomer or group of amateur astronomers who discovered the intrinsically brightest near-Earth asteroid among the Near-Earth asteroids that were discovered by such astronomers or groups; and (2) $3,000 to the amateur astronomer or group of amateur astronomers who made the greatest contribution to the mission of the Minor Planet Center of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to catalog near-Earth asteroids.

(Sec. 614) Directs the Administrator to arrange with the National Research Council to evaluate NASA's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education program.

(Sec. 615) Requires the Administrator to submit a report on efforts to ensure equal access for minority and economically disadvantaged students to NASA's education programs.

(Sec. 616) Allows the Administrator to provide grants to, and enter into cooperative agreements with, museums and planetariums to enable them to enhance programs related to space exploration, aeronautics, space science, earth science, or microgravity.

(Sec. 617) Requires: (1) the Administrator to transmit a report on the legal status of the Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology (MUST) program; and (2) if such program is in compliance with US laws, NASA to implement the program, as planned in the July 5, 2005, National Research Announcement.

Title VII: Miscellaneous Amendments - (Sec. 701) Allows the Administrator to relinquish to a state all or part of US legislative jurisdiction over lands or interests under the Administrator's control in such state.

(Sec. 702) Amends the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 to extend through December 31, 2010, the authority for the Administrator to provide liability insurance for, or indemnification to, the developer of an experimental aerospace vehicle developed or used in execution of an agreement between NASA and the developer. Permits the Administrator to extend such termination date to a date not later than September 30, 2015, if the Administrator has arranged with the National Academy of Public Administration to determine the impact on private parties and the federal government of eliminating such authority.

(Sec. 703) Repeals the four year limitation on the service obligation of recipients of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science and Technology Scholarship. Modifies the formula for calculating the amount for which recipients shall be liable for if they breach their agreements.

(Sec. 704) Amends the the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 to require the Administrator, before any funds may be obligated for implementation of a project that is projected to cost more than $150 million, to conduct and consider an independent life-cycle cost analysis and to report the results to Congress. Defines implementation.

(Sec. 705) Prohibits, except as provided, a NASA activity or function that is converted to contractor performance under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 from being performed by the contractor or any subcontractor at a location outside of the United States.

Prohibits, except as provided, a contract for the procurement of goods and services that is entered into by the Administrator from being performed outside the United States unless it is to meet a requirement of NASA for goods or services specifically outside the United States. Allows the President to waive such prohibition in the case of any contract for which: (1) it is necessary in US national security interests for goods or services under the contract to be performed outside the United States; or (2) essential goods or services under the contract are only available from a source outside the United States.

Bars applying the provisions of this section to the extent that they are inconsistent with US obligations under international agreements.

Requires the Administrator to submit annual reports on the contracts performed overseas and amount of purchases by NASA from foreign entities.

Title VIII: Independent Commissions - Subtitle A: International Space Station Independent Safety Commission - (Sec. 811) Directs the President to establish an independent, nonpartisan Commission within the executive branch to discover, assess, and report on, any vulnerabilities of the ISS that could lead to its destruction, compromise the health of its crew, or necessitate its premature abandonment.

Subtitle B: Human Space Flight Independent Investigation Commission - (Sec. 821) Directs the President to establish an independent, nonpartisan Commission within the executive branch to investigate any incident that results in the loss of: (1) a Space Shuttle; (2) the ISS or its operational viability; (3) any other US space vehicle carrying humans; or (4) a crew member or passenger of any such space vehicle.

Subtitle C: Organization and Operation of Commissions - (Sec. 831) Sets forth provisions for the organization and operation of the Commissions established under this title.