In what for Congress would be a rare public moment of bipartisan camaraderie, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation unanimously approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 on Thursday morning setting the latest "new direction" for NASA, apparently in coordination with the appropriations committees and reportedly with the tacit assent of the White House.
The highlights include one more Shuttle flight next year, immediate start to development of a Shuttle Derived Heavy Lift Vehicle (SDHLV), technology development and transition to commercial crew/cargo service to the International Space Station (ISS). There still may be some action on the Senate floor to fine tune the funding for technology development and commercial space. (Apparently, it takes a day or so to publish the bill's details, including funding levels, so there still seems to be some ambiguity as to how the funding plan for each topic has changed.)
One thing is clear. The process of developing a new direction has entered a new phase, beyond the pitfalls of the previous program, the uncertainty of the last year and a half, and the rancor that followed the release of the Obama Administration's original proposal in February. Let's see to it that it draws upon the best of NASA's heritage and the emerging commercial sector to open wide the frontier of space.
HobbySpace has numerous links here and here. also stay tuned to Spacetoday.net and NASA Watch for continuing coverage and links.