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As NASA turns 55, Congress clashes over future funding for agency

Published: Wednesday, July 31 2013 2:43 p.m. MDT

Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket lifts off from the launchpad at the NASA facility on Wallops Island Va., Sunday April 21, 2013.

Steve Helber, AP

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With different ideas for what it means to be fiscally responsible in the current economic climate, the Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House could be in for a showdown over how much money to give NASA for fiscal years 2014-16.

“A Senate panel Tuesday narrowly approved a bill reauthorizing NASA, setting up a showdown with the House over how much money the nation's space program should get,” USA Today reported Wednesday. “The three-year bill, which now heads to the full Senate, would give the space agency $18.1 billion in fiscal year 2014, $18.4 billion in 2015 and $18.8 billion in 2016 — $2 billion more per year than the U.S. House is considering. NASA received $17.7 billion in fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30. … The partisan conflict over NASA funding largely involves each party's view of how much money is available to spend on most federal programs, such as space and science.”

The disagreement over NASA funding comes on the 55th anniversary of the agency’s inception. “This week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, commonly known as NASA, celebrated a hefty milestone: The Space Act that created NASA was signed 55 years ago, in 1958,” Yahoo’s Claudine Zap reported Tuesday. “Now the Space Shuttle program is mothballed. … (But) NASA is still part of popular culture, and still exploring. The Mars rover Curiosity captivated audiences far and wide with its live-stream landing on the red planet.”

In honor of NASA’s 55th birthday, the science website Ars Technica published a NASA tribute Tuesday replete with dozens of vivid photos from some of the watershed moments in NASA history.

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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