NASA Authorization Bill of 2010 and Earth Observation

The House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) released the legislative text of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010. The bill is co-sponsored by Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Pete Olson (R-TX).

Furthermore, the Chairman has also announced the Committee intends to notice a mark up for Thursday, July 22nd at 10:00 AM in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building to consider this legislation. Visit the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics website for more information.

The Senate version of the bill was marked up on July 15th in an executive session of the Commerce Committee.

Selected sections of the House and Senate bills related to Earth Science and Earth Observations:

HOUSE DRAFT Bill (before markup):

TITLE III. SCIENCE

Subtitle A. Earth Science

Sec. 301 Earth Science Applications

Directs the Administrator to develop a process for entering into arrangements with other government agencies that seek to benefit from ongoing NASA capabilities related to Earth science applications and decision support systems.

Sec. 302. Essential Space-Based Earth Science and Climate Measurements

Directs the Administrator to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies for a study, to be completed within 18 months after the enactment of this Act, to develop a prioritized list of essential earth science and climate measurements that can be collected with space-based means.

Sec. 303. Commercial Remote Sensing Data Purchases Pilot Project

Directs the Administrator to initiate a pilot project for purchasing commercial remote sensing data to address state, local, regional, and tribal needs.

TITLE IX. OTHER PROVISIONS

Sec. 901. Cloud Computing

Directs the Comptroller General to transmit a report detailing whether sensitive but unclassified and classified NASA information was processed on a non-Federal cloud computing facility and if so, how NASA ensured the safeguarding of NASA’s scientific and technical information.

Sec905. Space Weather

Directs the Director of OSTP to prepare a long-term strategy for a sustainable space weather program and develop a plan to implement the strategy, to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies to assess the status of capabilities for space weather prediction, and transmit the results of these activities no later than 18 months after the date of enactment of the Act.

Sec. 906. Use of Operational Commercial Suborbital Vehicles for Research, Development, and Education

Directs the Administrator to prepare a plan describing the processes required to support the potential use of commercial reusable suborbital flight vehicles for carrying out scientific and engineering investigations and educational activities; assess and characterize the potential capabilities and performance of commercial reusable suborbital vehicles for addressing scientific research; and transmit the plan and assessment within one year after the date of enactment of this Act. Prohibits the Administrator from proceeding with a procurement award for the provision of a commercial reusable suborbital vehicle launch service until all indemnification and liability issues have been addressed and the Administrator has provided a report describing the indemnification and liability provisions that are planned to be included in such contract(s).

TITLE VIII. ACQUISITION MANAGEMENT

Sec. 801. Prohibition on Expenditure of Funds When 30 Percent Threshold Is Exceeded

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization of 2005 is amended to clarify the starting point of the period at the end of which NASA is prohibited from expending further funds on a project.

Sec. 802Project and Program Reserves

Directs the Administrator to transmit not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act a report describing NASA’s criteria for establishing the amount of reserves at the Project and Program levels.

Sec. 803. Independent Reviews

Directs the Administrator to transmit not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act a report describing internal entities that conduct independent reviews of projects and programs at life cycle milestones and how NASA ensures the independence of members prior to their assignment.


SENATE DRAFT Bill:

TITLE VII—EARTH SCIENCE

SEC. 701. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) Earth observations are critical to scientific understanding and monitoring of the Earth system, to protecting human health and property, to growing the economy of the United States, and to strengthening the national security and international posture of the United States. Additionally, recognizing the number of relevant participants and activities involved with Earth observations within the United States Government and internationally, Congress supports the strengthening of collaboration across these areas;

(2) NASA plays a critical role through its ability to provide data on solar output, sea level rise, atmospheric and ocean temperature, ozone depletion, air pollution, and observation of human and environ1ment relationships;

(3) programs that utilize open standards consistent with international data-sharing principles and obtain and convert data from other government agencies, including data derived from satellites operated by NOAA as well as from international satellites are important to the study of climate science and such cooperative relationships and programs should be maintained; and

(4) Earth-observing satellites and sustained monitoring programs will continue to play a vital role in climate science, environmental understanding, mitigation of destructive environmental impacts, and contributing to the general national welfare.

SEC. 702. INTER-AGENCY COLLABORATION IMPLEMENTA TION APPROACH.

The Director of OSTP shall establish a mechanism to ensure greater coordination of the research, operations, and activities relating to civilian Earth observation of those Agencies, including NASA, that have active pro grams that either contribute directly or indirectly to these areas. This mechanism should include the development of a strategic implementation plan that is updated at least every 3 years, and includes a process for external independent advisory input. This plan should include a description of the responsibilities of the various Agency roles in Earth observations, recommended cost-sharing and procurement arrangements between Agencies and other entities, including international arrangements, and a plan for ensuring the provision of sustained, long-term space-based climate observations. The Director shall provide a report to Congress within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act on the implementation plan for this mechanism.

SEC. 703. TRANSITIONING EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH TO OPERATIONS.

The Administrator shall coordinate with the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a formal mechanism that plans, coordinates, and supports the transitioning of NASA research findings, assets, and capabilities to NOAA operations. In defining this mechanism, NASA should consider the establishment of a formal or informal Interagency Transition Office. NASA shall provide an implementation plan for this mechanism to Congress within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 704. DECADAL SURVEY MISSIONS IMPLEMENTATION FOR EARTH OBSERVATION.

The Administrator shall undertake to implement, as appropriate, missions identified in the National Research Council’s Earth Science Decadal Survey within the scope of the funds authorized for the Earth Science Mission Directorate.

SEC. 705. EXPANSION OF EARTH SCIENCE APPLICATIONS.

It is the sense of the Congress that the role of NASA in Earth Science applications shall be expanded with State and local governments, tribal governments, academia, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and international partners. NASA’s Earth science data can increasingly aid efforts to improve the human condition and provide greater security.

SEC. 707. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON NPOESS FOLLOW-ON PROGRAM.

It is the Sense of the Congress that—

(1) polar orbiting satellites are vital for weather prediction, climate and environmental monitoring, national security, emergency response, and climate research;

(2) the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System has suffered from years of steadily rising cost estimates and schedule delays and an independent review team recommended that the System be restructured to improve the probability of success and protect the continuity of weather and climate data;

(3) the Congress supports the decision made by OSTP in February, 2010, to restructure the program to minimize schedule slips and cost over runs, clarify the responsibilities and accountability of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense, and retain necessary coordination across civil and defense weather and climate programs;

(4) the Congress encourages the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Secretary of Defense to maximize the use of assets from the NPOESS program as they establish the NOAA Joint Polar Satellite System at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Department of Defense’s Defense Weather Satellite System;

(5) the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Secretary of Defense should structure their programs in order to maintain satellite data continuity for the Nation’s weather and climate requirements; and

(6) the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Secretary of Defense should provide immediate notification to the Congress of any impediments that may require Congressional intervention in order for the agencies to meet launch readiness dates, together with any recommended actions.

SEC. 805. DECADAL RESULTS.

NASA shall take into account the current decadal surveys from the National Academies’ Space Studies Board when submitting the President’s budget request to the Congress.

SEC. 809. SPACE WEATHER.

(a) FINDINGS.—The Congress finds the following:

(1) Space weather events pose a significant threat to modern technological systems.

(2) The effects of severe space weather events on the electric power grid, telecommunications and entertainment satellites, airline communications during polar routes, and space-based position, navigation and timing systems could have significant societal, economic, national security, and health impacts.

(3) Earth and Space Observing satellites, such as the Advanced Composition Explorer, Geo-stationary Operational Environmental Satellites, Polar Operational Environmental Satellites, and Defense Meteorological Satellites, provide crucial data necessary to predict space weather events.

(b) ACTION REQUIRED.—OSTP shall—

(1) improve the Nation’s ability to prepare, avoid, mitigate, respond to, and recover from potentially devastating impacts of space weather events;

(2) coordinate the operational activities of the National Space Weather Program Council members, including the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency; and (3) submit a report to the appropriate committees of Congress within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act that—

(A) details the current data sources, both space- and ground-based, that are necessary for space weather forecasting; and

(B) details the space- and ground-based systems that will be required to gather data necessary for space weather forecasting for the next 10 years.

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