The bill co-authored by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would add a third shuttle flight for the summer of 2011, set out a new direction for NASA for the next three years, and would mean continued employment for much of the workforce at the Kennedy Space Center, WOFL-TV, Orlando reported Thursday.
The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed the NASA authorization bill by a unanimous vote. The bill will now move up to the full Senate for review, msnbc.com reported.
"NASA is an agency in transition. We've had to take a clear, hard look at what we want from our space agency in the years and decades to come," committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said in a statement. "I've made my views on this matter very clear: NASA's role cannot stay static. It must innovate and move in a new direction."
Under the bill, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will move forward with heavy lift rocket development for manned deep space flights with a target date of 2016 rather than 2025 as previously planned.
NASA will be directed to begin development immediately on the new generation of rockets to carry future spacecraft and crews into orbit, a move that will bring millions of dollars into the Florida economy, WOFL-TV reported.