WASHINGTON — Calling the Marshall Space Flight Center “second to none,” Alabama’s junior senator helped secure billions of dollars to fund projects at the NASA field center.
U.S. Sen. Katie Britt announced Tuesday she and her colleagues on the Appropriations Committee passed a FY2024 appropriations bill including “new age” NASA initiatives ranging from deep-space exploration to interplanetary habitation to the hardware and systems that make crewed missions possible.
The bill secures $110 million for the development of Nuclear Thermal Propulsion based at Marshall to ensure that the United States has a system capable of performing cislunar and deep space science missions – as well as potentially enabling crewed missions to Mars.
Another Marshall-managed operation, NASA’s Space Launch System, was also appropriated $2.5 billion.
Britt (R-Montgomery) said her funding request will ensure future Artemis missions remain on schedule and continue to launch astronauts beyond Earth’s orbit in the most powerful rocket ever: SLS.
“The Marshall Space Flight Center is second-to-none,” she said. “As the incredible men and women at NASA, along with their partners in the private sector, continue to make historic leaps that broaden our understanding and expand the limits of human achievement, we must ensure that their groundbreaking work is supported.”
The committee-approved bill would fully fund the Marshall-managed Human Landing System program at $1.88 billion, ensuring maintained progress for Artemis 3 and continued development of the two crewed lunar landers to provide services from the Gateway lunar space station.
According to Britt, NASA’s recent selection of a second lunar team will ensure redundancy and competition as astronauts return to the moon.
The legislation supports NASA’s efforts as they evaluate multi-purpose habitation and life support systems for Mars transit and lunar surfaces currently involved in the Artemis missions, including in assembly facilities, to manufacture the mock-up and eventual habitats for these missions.
In April, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson reaffirmed that Marshall Space Flight Center has both the expertise and workforce to establish a habitat and life support office that integrates and manages NASA’s efforts.
“I am proud of the work that Alabamians accomplish every day to fuel a new age of American excellence in space exploration, and I am continually impressed at how our capabilities in Huntsville lead innovation crucial to our national priorities,” Britt said.