President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law federal legislation that will continue funding for the Johnson Space Center and other Texas-based space facilities.
The bipartisan, $19.5 billion National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 won Senate approval last month, and the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent unanimous vote brought it before Trump.
“This legislation assures the future of NASA and Texas’ crucial role in space exploration and the creation of new manufacturing facilities and high-paying jobs,” Sen. Ted Cruz said. “This is critical to the Texas economy.”
Cruz, a Texas Republican who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, and Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson co-sponsored the bipartisan bill, which is the first continuing authorization of NASA funding since President Barack Obama signed similar legislation into law in 2010.
Trump’s signature also approves funding for a bill dubbed To Research, Evaluate And Treat (TREAT) Astronauts Act, which Rep. Brian Babin, whose congressional district encompasses the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, sponsored.
“This is an exciting day for America,” Babin said. “With universal backing in Congress and President Trump’s signature, the NASA Transition Authorization Act puts the United States on a clear path forward by providing certainty and long-term stability to NASA and America’s human space flight programs.”
Trump’s signature on the bill Tuesday countered his call late last month for across-the-board cuts in discretionary federal spending other than for the military in the nation’s next fiscal budget.
Trump’s signature on the bill advances — but does not ensure — continued funding for the yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, the International Space Station, further proposed space programs, including to Mars, and private space initiatives such as those being pursued by Blue Origin and Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX.
Both companies are developing launch facilities in Texas.