Members of the Alabama Congressional Delegation, led by Alabama’s senior US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), secured critical funding to support key programs on Redstone Arsenal in the FY 2017 Appropriation bill recently approved by Congress. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS), Sen Shelby’s subcommittee funded important NASA, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) programs at Redstone Arsenal. The legislation provides $19.7 billion to NASA, $2.15 billion of which is allocated to rocket development and testing for the Space Launch System (SLS) currently underway at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The bill calls for the development of SLS with a lift capability of at least 130 metric tons and includes $300 million for the simultaneous development of an Exploration Upper Stage for the SLS. Other members of the Appropriation Committee from Alabama include Congressman Robert Aderholt and Congresswoman Martha Roby.
“This bill helps to maintain American leadership in space by funding the development and construction of the Space Launch System in support of expanding human exploration of space,” said Senator Shelby. “The heavy lift rocket will help us explore farther into space than ever before, and with support from this Committee, we will continue to make progress towards the creation of this unparalleled launch capability. This bill also includes funding for NASA science missions, which will expand our understanding of space and inspire our nation’s next generation of scientists and engineers.”
The Bill provides $19.7 billion for NASA, which is an increase of $368 million over the Fiscal Year 2016 enacted level and $1.39 billion over President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request. It funds the SLS program at $2.15 billion, which is $920 million above the former President’s request and $150 million above the Fiscal Year 2016 level. Within the funding for SLS is $300 million for development of a human rated Exploration upper stage engine that will enable crewed missions to travel to the Moon and Mars. It also includes an additional $109 million in construction funding, including funding for the repair of damage caused by a tornado at the Michaud Assembly Facility, which builds the core components of the Space Launch System.
The bill also provides $35 million for advancing the technologies for nuclear thermal propulsion that will help provide significantly faster transit times for missions than current propulsion options. The ongoing propulsion development work done at Marshall Space Flight Center will further NASA’s exploration goals by supporting efficient transport of cargo and science payloads, and reducing crews’ exposure to harmful space radiation and other effects of long-term space missions.
$30 million is included for development of a small launch technology platform within NASA’s Space Technology Flight Opportunities program and $25 million for continued work in additive manufacturing as part of the NASA’s Space Technology program activities.
The bill also provided critical funding for key FBI and ATF programs. Senator Shelby added, “Within prudent budgetary boundaries, this year’s funding bill achieves a careful balance between all of our competing national priorities, including law enforcement and national security, economic development, scientific research, and human space exploration. I am pleased that this bill secures important funding for the Department of Justice and law enforcement programs essential to national, state, and local efforts. The Hazardous Devices School, TEDAC, and NCETR will continue to play a crucial role in protecting our nation.”
Funded projects include:
Likewise, the bill provided funding for key military activities.
“This bill strengthens our nation’s security with an increase in defense spending,” said Senator Shelby. “Supporting top defense priorities, including Alabama’s national defense capabilities, demonstrates that we are committed to our military. I’m pleased that our state will continue to play a leading role in serving our Armed Forces. With growing instability around the world, we must provide our military the means necessary to protect our nation.”
Key defense initiatives funded in the legislation include $396.6 million for the Next Generation Rocket Engine. “The United States should not depend on any foreign power for access to space — especially in the national security arena,” said Senator Shelby. “It is important for Congress to support the development of an American-made engine, providing the Air Force with a domestic engine for vital national security space launch missions as soon as possible.”
Also included was $30 million above the President’s FY17 Budget Request for Missile and Rocket Advanced Technology. “The funding included in this bill will allow our nation’s weapons research labs and test facilities to continue to field new weapon technologies as asymmetric threats emerge,” said Senator Shelby. “Advanced weapon systems are vital to maintaining the Army’s superiority on the battlefield, especially during a time of manpower reductions.”
High Energy Laser Research – $38 million above the President’s FY17 Budget Request
“Fielding high energy lasers will give U.S. soldiers a competitive advantage on the battlefield,” said Senator Shelby. “It is my hope that the funding in this bill will allow the Army to accelerate the design and development of this cutting-edge technology.”
Ground-based Midcourse Defense – $110 million in addition to the President’s FY17 Budget Request, Rejects the President’s cuts and maintains FY16 level
“It is critically important that we support efforts to modernize and expand America’s homeland missile defense system,” said Senator Shelby. “The Ground-based Midcourse Defense System is vital to the protection of the U.S. and our allies from rogue nations who seek to do us harm, and I am pleased that this bill includes appropriate funding to support the Missile Defense Agency’s work.”
Prompt Global Strike Capability – $101 million, $12 million above the FY16 enacted level
“The funding included in this bill reaffirms Congress’ support the Department of Defense’s work to develop a high-speed weapon that can deliver a conventional warhead anywhere in the world,” said Senator Shelby. “I strongly believe that America cannot afford to be behind other nations, including Russia and China, that are currently working to develop similar advanced technologies.”
Thank you messages should be sent to Senator Shelby at 304 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 224-5744, Fax: (202) 224-3416; to Congressman Aderholt at 235 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-4876, Fax (202) 225-5587; and to Congresswoman Roby at 442 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-2901, Fax: (202) 225-8913.