Deal ready to steer NASA future
Compromise saves some jobs, programs, opens commercial path
WASHINGTON — The acrimonious political schism between the White House and Congress over NASA's manned space program is poised to end Wednesday with a hard-won deal that gives President Barack Obama money for commercial spacecraft and Congress the NASA-built systems needed for deep space exploration.
The compromise, if approved as expected by the House, will be essential to Houston's Johnson Space Center and likely spare at least some of the 1,100 aerospace layoffs that NASA contractors forecast before the House-Senate-White House consensus was reached. It also will bring some direction to the nation's $19 billion-a-year space program.
The deal, originally crafted over the summer by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Dallas, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., scraps some of NASA's marquee back-to-the-moon program, extends operations of the orbiting space station and adds one last shuttle flight — while handing the White House 75 percent of the $812 million it wanted next year to support a booming commercial spacecraft industry.
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