In an article Saturday, the amount authorized for space-station funding was reported incorrectly. The figure is $767 million. (Published 11/3/87)
President Reagan yesterday signed into law a $9.6 billion authorization for NASA that provides full funding to begin work on the controversial space station.
The act calls for $7.67 billion for the space station, for fiscal 1988, and up to $60 million as a first installment for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to begin buying a balanced fleet of unmanned expendable launch vehicles to supplement the manned space shuttle.
The space program still faces a tough fight for the money in the budget process.
"It's true the exact dollars will be decided on the appropriations committees," said an aide to Rep. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who chairs a key subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
The aide added that "in the current climate there is cause for concern. But this new law shows the priorities that the president and Congress have agreed upon."
The signing also highlighted an apparent breach between Reagan and Vice President Bush.
Last year, the president vetoed the NASA authorization, a congressional blueprint for spending priorities in the space program. He objected to the bill's creation of a national space council to replace the administration's current policy-making structure, which has come under severe congressional criticism for foot dragging and indecision.
The president said the council "would constitute unacceptable interference with my discretion" and create "unnecessary bureaucracy." This year, Congress agreed to drop the measure.
On Thursday, Bush endorsed the notion during a visit to Huntsville, Ala., where he addressed workers at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
"As president, I will create a national space council, chaired by the vice president and composed of the heads of such departments as Commerce, Defense, State and Transportation, in addition to NASA," said Bush, who is campaigning for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination.
He also told the space workers that mounting concern about the cost of government would continue to limit space projects to "realistic missions that recognize those constraints."