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Sen. Shelby secures $2B in funding for SLS rocket currently in development at Marshall Space Flight Center

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WASHINGTON, DC – Wednesday U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS), announced the inclusion of several key provisions critical to human space exploration in the Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill.

The bill provides $2 billion to the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket development currently underway at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

“I have always been a strong supporter of the Marshall Space Flight Center and NASA’s efforts to develop the Space Launch System and maintain America’s position as the leader in human space exploration,” said Senator Shelby. “The funding in this bill will ensure that the SLS vehicle, and its key elements, are completed in time to support a 2018 launch of Exploration Mission-1. It will also ensure that the ongoing development work for Exploration Mission-2 will enable our astronauts to again explore space. The $19.3 billion provided in the bill includes funding for the ongoing activities of the International Space Station, important science research missions, and developing new technologies that, along with SLS, will inspire the next generation of explorers.”

The $2 billion for the SLS rocket is $643 million above the President’s request and $300 million above the Fiscal Year 2015 level, according to Shelby’s office. As part of the SLS funding, $85 million is provided for development of an enhanced upper stage that will enable SLS to reach its full 130 ton lift capacity. NASA is also directed to use SLS as the launch vehicle for a science mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa.