Congress has approved a blueprint for NASA's future that extends the life of the space shuttle program while backing President Barack Obama's intent to use commercial carriers to lift humans into near-Earth space.
The House vote late Wednesday sends to Obama a bill that rewrites NASA's space agenda. It dismantles the program under which former President George W. Bush sought to return astronauts to the moon, and extends the life of the International Space Station from 2015 to 2020.
The bill relies mainly on the still-nascent commercial space industry to transport astronauts to the space station over the next five years. But in a nod to concerns about NASA jobs, it also speeds up development of a heavy launch vehicle and funds the shuttle program for another year.