Two-thirds majority was needed, but the spending bill received an overwhelming
409-15 vote that helped
send a "strong message" to the next president of the United
States. The voting breakdown was as follows: 228 Democrats and 181
Republicans voted yes, while 15 Republicans voted no.
White House officials have not responded to the news.
The additional money will allow NASA to launch one more manned shuttle mission
before the space shuttle program is shut down in 2010. Up to $1 billion
in the NASA money also will be designated to help accelerate the Orion Crew
Exploration Vehicle and Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, both of which will replace
the aging shuttle by 2015.
Until Orion is completed, NASA will pay an estimated $2.8 billion to the
Russian space agency for its assistance in getting NASA astronauts and supplies
to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA still aims to launch a manned mission to the moon by 2020. As more nations
continue to receive funding required to launch ambitious space missions --
including Russia, China and Japan -- U.S. space officials previously were
concerned that other nations will prosper while NASA falls behind.
India and other nations also have developing space programs that are beginning
to blossom due to accelerating technology fields and increased government
Late last year, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin admitted China will likely
beat NASA and other nations back to the moon.
"Without additional funding for Orion, America risks abdicating its position
as the world leader in science and technology to Russia, China and Japan,"
Rep. Nick Lampson (D, TX) said during the House meeting.
A committee hearing is now scheduled for the Senate early next week, where the
budget increase will be discussed.