The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
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At A Glance
 
 
Public Law
: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017
: 115- 10
Session: 115th Congress (First Session)


The following are excerpts, highlighted in red, from the final legislation and/or conference report which contain references to and studies for The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (Pound signs [##] between passages denote the deletion of unrelated text.)

S442 Cruz (R-Texas) 03/07/17
Enrolled (finally passed both houses)
To authorize the programs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and for other purposes.
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SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

(a) Short Title.—This Act may be cited as the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017”.


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TITLE III—MAXIMIZING UTILIZATION OF THE ISS AND LOW-EARTH ORBIT

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SEC. 303. ISS TRANSITION PLAN.

(a) Findings.—Congress finds that—

(1) NASA has been both the primary supplier and consumer of human space flight capabilities and services of the ISS and in low-Earth orbit; and

(2) according to the National Research Council report “Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration” extending ISS beyond 2020 to 2024 or 2028 will have significant negative impacts on the schedule of crewed missions to Mars, without significant increases in funding.

(b) Sense of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) an orderly transition for United States human space flight activities in low-Earth orbit from the current regime, that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship, to a regime where NASA is one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit commercial human space flight enterprise may be necessary; and

(2) decisions about the long-term future of the ISS impact the ability to conduct future deep space exploration activities, and that such decisions regarding the ISS should be considered in the context of the human exploration roadmap under section 432 of this Act.

(c) Reports.—Section 50111 of title 51, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(c) ISS Transition Plan.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

“(2) REPORTS.—Not later than December 1, 2017, and biennially thereafter until 2023, the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives a report that includes—

“(A) a description of the progress in achieving the Administration’s deep space human exploration objectives on ISS and prospects for accomplishing future mission requirements, space exploration objectives, and other research objectives on future commercially supplied low-Earth orbit platforms or migration of those objectives to cis-lunar space;

“(B) the steps NASA is taking and will take, including demonstrations that could be conducted on the ISS, to stimulate and facilitate commercial demand and supply of products and services in low-Earth orbit;

“(C) an identification of barriers preventing the commercialization of low-Earth orbit, including issues relating to policy, regulations, commercial intellectual property, data, and confidentiality, that could inhibit the use of the ISS as a commercial incubator;

“(D) the criteria for defining the ISS as a research success;

“(E) the criteria used to determine whether the ISS is meeting the objective under section 301(b)(2) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017;

“(F) an assessment of whether the criteria under subparagraphs (D) and (E) are consistent with the research areas defined in, and recommendations and schedules under, the current National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space;

“(G) any necessary contributions that ISS extension would make to enabling execution of the human exploration roadmap under section 432 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017;

“(H) the cost estimates for operating the ISS to achieve the criteria required under subparagraphs (D) and (E) and the contributions identified under subparagraph (G);

“(I) the cost estimates for extending operations of the ISS to 2024, 2028, and 2030;

“(J) an evaluation of the feasible and preferred service life of the ISS beyond the period described in section 503 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (42 U.S.C. 18353), through at least 2028, as a unique scientific, commercial, and space exploration-related facility, including—

“(i) a general discussion of international partner capabilities and prospects for extending the partnership;

“(ii) the cost associated with extending the service life;

“(iii) an assessment on the technical limiting factors of the service life of the ISS, including a list of critical components and their expected service life and availability; and

“(iv) such other information as may be necessary to fully describe the justification for and feasibility of extending the service life of the ISS, including the potential scientific or technological benefits to the Federal Government, public, or to academic or commercial entities;

“(K) an identification of the necessary actions and an estimate of the costs to deorbit the ISS once it has reached the end of its service life;

“(L) the impact on deep space exploration capabilities, including a crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s, if the preferred service life of the ISS is extended beyond 2024 and NASA maintains a flat budget profile; and

“(M) an evaluation of the functions, roles, and responsibilities for management and operation of the ISS and a determination of—

“(i) those functions, roles, and responsibilities the Federal Government should retain during the lifecycle of the ISS;

“(ii) those functions, roles, and responsibilities that could be transferred to the commercial space sector;

“(iii) the metrics that would indicate the commercial space sector’s readiness and ability to assume the functions, roles, and responsibilities described in clause (ii); and

“(iv) any necessary changes to any agreements or other documents and the law to enable the activities described in subparagraphs (A) and (B).

“(3) DEMONSTRATIONS.—If additional Government crew, power, and transportation resources are available after meeting the Administration’s requirements for ISS activities defined in the human exploration roadmap and related research, demonstrations identified under paragraph (2) may—

“(A) test the capabilities needed to meet future mission requirements, space exploration objectives, and other research objectives described in paragraph (2)(A); and

“(B) demonstrate or test capabilities, including commercial modules or deep space habitats, Environmental Control and Life Support Systems, orbital satellite assembly, exploration space suits, a node that enables a wide variety of activity, including multiple commercial modules and airlocks, additional docking or berthing ports for commercial crew and cargo, opportunities for the commercial space sector to cost share for transportation and other services on the ISS, other commercial activities, or services obtained through alternate acquisition approaches.”.


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TITLE IV—ADVANCING HUMAN DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION

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Subtitle C—Journey to Mars

SEC. 431. FINDINGS ON HUMAN SPACE EXPLORATION.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) In accordance with section 204 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (124 Stat. 2813), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, through its Committee on Human Spaceflight, conducted a review of the goals, core capabilities, and direction of human space flight, and published the findings and recommendations in a 2014 report entitled, “Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration”.

(2) The Committee on Human Spaceflight included leaders from the aerospace, scientific, security, and policy communities.

(3) With input from the public, the Committee on Human Spaceflight concluded that many practical and aspirational rationales for human space flight together constitute a compelling case for continued national investment and pursuit of human space exploration toward the horizon goal of Mars.

(4) According to the Committee on Human Spaceflight, the rationales include economic benefits, national security, national prestige, inspiring students and other citizens, scientific discovery, human survival, and a sense of shared destiny.

(5) The Committee on Human Spaceflight affirmed that Mars is the appropriate long-term goal for the human space flight program.

(6) The Committee on Human Spaceflight recommended that NASA define a series of sustainable steps and conduct mission planning and technology development as needed to achieve the long-term goal of placing humans on the surface of Mars.

(7) Expanding human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and advancing toward human missions to Mars requires early planning and timely decisions to be made in the near-term on the necessary courses of action for commitments to achieve short-term and long-term goals and objectives.

(8) In addition to the 2014 report described in paragraph (1), there are several independently developed reports or concepts that describe potential Mars architectures or concepts and identify Mars as the long-term goal for human space exploration, including NASA’s “The Global Exploration Roadmap” of 2013, “NASA’s Journey to Mars-Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration” of 2015, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s “Minimal Architecture for Human Journeys to Mars” of 2015, and Explore Mars’ “The Humans to Mars Report 2016”.

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TITLE V—ADVANCING SPACE SCIENCE

SEC. 501. MAINTAINING A BALANCED SPACE SCIENCE PORTFOLIO.

(a) Sense of Congress on Science Portfolio.—Congress reaffirms the sense of Congress that—

(1) a balanced and adequately funded set of activities, consisting of research and analysis grant programs, technology development, suborbital research activities, and small, medium, and large space missions, contributes to a robust and productive science program and serves as a catalyst for innovation and discovery; and

(2) the Administrator should set science priorities by following the guidance provided by the scientific community through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s decadal surveys.

(b) Policy.—It is the policy of the United States to ensure, to the extent practicable, a steady cadence of large, medium, and small science missions.

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SEC. 504. WIDE-FIELD INFRARED SURVEY TELESCOPE.

(a) Sense of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (referred to in this section as “WFIRST”) mission has the potential to enable scientific discoveries that will transform our understanding of the universe; and

(2) the Administrator, to the extent practicable, should make progress on the technologies and capabilities needed to position the Administration to meet the objectives, as outlined in the 2010 National Academies’ Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, in a way that maximizes the scientific productivity of meeting those objectives for the resources invested.

(b) Continuity of Development.—The Administrator shall ensure that the concept definition and pre-formulation activities of the WFIRST mission continue while the James Webb Space Telescope is being completed.


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SEC. 508. EXTRASOLAR PLANET EXPLORATION STRATEGY.

(a) Strategy.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator shall enter into an arrangement with the National Academies to develop a science strategy for the study and exploration of extrasolar planets, including the use of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, the James Webb Space Telescope, a potential Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope mission, or any other telescope, spacecraft, or instrument, as appropriate.

(2) REQUIREMENTS.—The strategy shall—

(A) outline key scientific questions;

(B) identify the most promising research in the field;

(C) indicate the extent to which the mission priorities in existing decadal surveys address the key extrasolar planet research and exploration goals;

(D) identify opportunities for coordination with international partners, commercial partners, and not-for-profit partners; and

(E) make recommendations regarding the activities under subparagraphs (A) through (D), as appropriate.

(b) Use of Strategy.—The Administrator shall use the strategy—

(1) to inform roadmaps, strategic plans, and other activities of the Administration as they relate to extrasolar planet research and exploration; and

(2) to provide a foundation for future activities and initiatives related to extrasolar planet research and exploration.

(c) Report to Congress.—Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Academies shall submit to the Administrator and to the appropriate committees of Congress a report containing the strategy developed under subsection (a).

SEC. 509. ASTROBIOLOGY STRATEGY.

(a) Strategy.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator shall enter into an arrangement with the National Academies to develop a science strategy for astrobiology that would outline key scientific questions, identify the most promising research in the field, and indicate the extent to which the mission priorities in existing decadal surveys address the search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the Universe.

(2) RECOMMENDATIONS.—The strategy shall include recommendations for coordination with international partners.

(b) Use of Strategy.—The Administrator shall use the strategy developed under subsection (a) in planning and funding research and other activities and initiatives in the field of astrobiology.

(c) Report to Congress.—Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Academies shall submit to the Administrator and to the appropriate committees of Congress a report containing the strategy developed under subsection (a).


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SEC. 515. RADIOISOTOPE POWER SYSTEMS.

(a) Sense of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) exploration of the outer reaches of the solar system is enabled by radioisotope power systems;

(2) establishing continuity in the production of the material needed for radioisotope power systems is essential to maintaining the availability of such systems for future deep space exploration missions; and

(3) Federal agencies supporting the Administration through the production of such material should do so in a cost effective manner so as not to impose excessive reimbursement requirements on the Administration.

(b) Analysis of Requirements and Risks.—The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Administrator, in consultation with the heads of other Federal agencies, shall conduct an analysis of—

(1) the requirements of the Administration for radioisotope power system material that is needed to carry out planned, high priority robotic missions in the solar system and other surface exploration activities beyond low-Earth orbit; and

(2) the risks to missions of the Administration in meeting those requirements, or any additional requirements, due to a lack of adequate radioisotope power system material.

(c) Contents of Analysis.—The analysis conducted under subsection (b) shall—

(1) detail the Administration’s current projected mission requirements and associated timeframes for radioisotope power system material;

(2) explain the assumptions used to determine the Administration’s requirements for the material, including—

(A) the planned use of advanced thermal conversion technology such as advanced thermocouples and Stirling generators and converters; and

(B) the risks and implications of, and contingencies for, any delays or unanticipated technical challenges affecting or related to the Administration’s mission plans for the anticipated use of advanced thermal conversion technology;

(3) assess the risk to the Administration’s programs of any potential delays in achieving the schedule and milestones for planned domestic production of radioisotope power system material;

(4) outline a process for meeting any additional Administration requirements for the material;

(5) estimate the incremental costs required to increase the amount of material produced each year, if such an increase is needed to support additional Administration requirements for the material;

(6) detail how the Administration and other Federal agencies will manage, operate, and fund production facilities and the design and development of all radioisotope power systems used by the Administration and other Federal agencies as necessary;

(7) specify the steps the Administration will take, in consultation with the Department of Energy, to preserve the infrastructure and workforce necessary for production of radioisotope power systems and ensure that its reimbursements to the Department of Energy associated with such preservation are equitable and justified; and

(8) detail how the Administration has implemented or rejected the recommendations from the National Research Council’s 2009 report titled “Radioisotope Power Systems: An Imperative for Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Space Exploration.”

(d) Report to Congress.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit the results of the analysis to the appropriate committees of Congress.

SEC. 516. ASSESSMENT OF MARS ARCHITECTURE.

(a) Assessment.—The Administrator shall enter into an arrangement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assess—

(1) the Administration’s Mars exploration architecture and its responsiveness to the strategies, priorities, and guidelines put forward by the National Academies’ planetary science decadal surveys and other relevant National Academies Mars-related reports;

(2) the long-term goals of the Administration’s Mars Exploration Program and such program’s ability to optimize the science return, given the current fiscal posture of the program;

(3) the Mars exploration architecture’s relationship to Mars-related activities to be undertaken by foreign agencies and organizations; and

(4) the extent to which the Mars exploration architecture represents a reasonably balanced mission portfolio.

(b) Report to Congress.—Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall submit the results of the assessment to the appropriate committees of Congress.


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TITLE VII—SPACE TECHNOLOGY

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SEC. 702. SPACE TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM.

(a) Space Technology Program Authorized.—The Administrator shall conduct a space technology program (referred to in this section as the “Program”) to research and develop advanced space technologies that could deliver innovative solutions across the Administration’s space exploration and science missions.

(b) Considerations.—In conducting the Program, the Administrator shall consider—

(1) the recommendations of the National Academies’ review of the Administration’s Space Technology roadmaps and priorities; and

(2) the applicable enabling aspects of the stepping stone approach to exploration under section 70504 of title 51, United States Code.

(c) Requirements.—In conducting the Program, the Administrator shall—

(1) to the extent practicable, use a competitive process to select research and development projects;

(2) to the extent practicable and appropriate, use small satellites and the Administration’s suborbital and ground-based platforms to demonstrate space technology concepts and developments; and

(3) as appropriate, partner with other Federal agencies, universities, private industry, and foreign countries.

(d) Small Business Programs.—The Administrator shall organize and manage the Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research Program and Small Business Technology Transfer Program within the Program.

(e) Nonduplication Certification.—The Administrator shall submit a budget for each fiscal year, as transmitted to Congress under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code, that avoids duplication of projects, programs, or missions conducted by Program with other projects, programs, or missions conducted by another office or directorate of the Administration.

(f) Collaboration, Coordination, and Alignment.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator shall—

(A) ensure that the Administration’s projects, programs, and activities in support of technology research and development of advanced space technologies are fully coordinated and aligned;

(B) ensure that the results the projects, programs, and activities under subparagraph (A) are shared and leveraged within the Administration; and

(C) ensure that the organizational responsibility for research and development activities in support of human space exploration not initiated as of the date of enactment of this Act is established on the basis of a sound rationale.

(2) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that projects, programs, and missions being conducted by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in support of research and development of advanced space technologies and systems focusing on human space exploration should continue in that Directorate.

(g) Report.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall provide to the appropriate committees of Congress a report—

(1) comparing the Administration’s space technology investments with the high-priority technology areas identified by the National Academies in the National Research Council’s report on the Administration’s Space Technology Roadmaps; and

(2) including—

(A) identification of how the Administration will address any gaps between the agency’s investments and the recommended technology areas, including a projection of funding requirements; and

(B) identification of the rationale described in subsection (f)(1)(C).

(h) Annual Report.—The Administrator shall include in the Administration’s annual budget request for each fiscal year the rationale for assigning organizational responsibility for, in the year prior to the budget fiscal year, each initiated project, program, and mission focused on research and development of advanced technologies for human space exploration.

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