By Gautham Nagesh - 09/28/10 06:53 PM EDT
The Senate bill also deviates from President Obama's plans by continuing the space shuttle program for one final flight next year. The bill would also preserve aspects of the Constellation program including the Orion crew capsule and a heavy-lift rocket designed to travel to Mars, both of which are opposed by the administration. The projects survived partly due to the vocal efforts of Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).
A Senate aide the bill would also substantially invest in advanced exploration technologies and robotics. The Senate bill moves up the timetable for the development of a long-range space vehicle in response to lawmakers' concerns about relying on Russia for human spaceflight.