The House last night narrowly approved a yearlong continuing resolution last night. The bill, as previously noted here, splits the difference between the authorized level of $19 billion for NASA and the FY10 level of just over $18.7 billion, and includes funds for HLV development as well as COTS and commercial crew. The Senate plans to develop its own omnibus spending bill which, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) tells Florida Today, would also fund NASA at $18.9 billion, but allocate funds among various programs differently. There's some question, though, if the Senate version would win out over the House's CR. The House Appropriations Committee has posted the text of the CR that, among the other provisions previously reported, includes an additional minor but interesting item on page 34. The CR devotes nearly a page to issues associated with the disposition of shuttle orbiters once the fleet is required, in particular cutting a special deal for the Smithsonian. "[S]hould the [NASA] Administrator determine that the Smithsonian Institution is an appropriate venue for an orbiter, such orbiter shall be made available to the Smithsonian at no or nominal cost," the CR states. The Smithsonian had earlier been given, in effect, right of first refusal on Discovery, but was still on the hook for the costs to accept it, estimated by NASA to be $28.8 million. There had been concerns that the museum might not be able (or willing) to come up with that money. The CR would effectively eliminate that cost, although any other museums selected by NASA to receive Atlantis or Endeavour would presumably still have to pay.
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