Congress Introduces NASA CHIPS Authorization Bill

An orange and white rocket stands beside its scaffolding highlighted by the surrounding spotlights.  His nose is directly in front of a full moon.

NASA’s Artemis I Moon rocket sits at Launch Pad Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Photo: Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP (Getty Images)

Guess who came rolling with the passage of $52 billion in manufacturing incentives semiconductors? Congress arrived like a cowboy riding a rocket (think Dr Strangelove), waving their new bill in the air that includes funding and provisions for NASA to pursue its dreams of leaving boot prints on the surface of the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

CHIPS+, AKA Chips and Science Act of 2022, has been authorized by the House Thursday 243 to 187. He had previously broke the bar of Senate filibuster with a vote of 64 to 33 earlier this week. This authorization effectively supports NASA’s efforts Efforts of Artemiswhose first SLS mega-rocket in the program is set to launch no earlier than August 29, taking an Orion capsule on a trip to the moon and back.

The text of the new bill (go to page 980, that’s a very long bill) also recommits US participation in the International Space Station until 2030. It had previously been authorized until September 2024. This is a major stumbling block in this period of international tension. , since both China and Russia are building their own stations in low Earth orbit. Russia’s antagonism to working with the international space community came to a head this week when the new space chief threatened to leave the ISS in 2024. The agency backtrack Thursday and said they had committed to the station until at least 2028.

The last time Congress past all big NASA funding was back in 2017 with the NASA Transition Authorization Act, granting the agency $19.5 billion in funding while emphasizing public-private partnerships with commercial spaceflight companies alongside manned missions to Mars.

Although unlike previous authorization bills, this new version does not include specific funding levels for the agency, but instead mandates the agency to build a “Moon to Mars” office and program. within the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, which includes several existing initiatives surrounding the moon Artemis and Mars efforts. These include Space Launch System, Orion Crew Vehicle, Ground Exploration Systems, etc.

The bill also directs NASA to complete a study on investment funds to promote increased use of NASA’s rocket propulsion infrastructure by other federal agencies.

In a statementNASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he was “incredibly happy” that lawmakers were able to pass NASA’s A clearance.ct, adding that the so-called “Generation Artemis – is part of an enduring exploration program that will last for decades.”

Of course, bundling NASA funding into a US semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure funding bill makes sense of bringing “all things science and technology” under one roof. The space agency provisions emerged on July 20 after negotiations in the Senate Commerce Committee, but with the backing of House Science Committee chief Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson. , according SpaceNews.

The CHIPS+ bill, on the other hand, establishes a $52 billionpiggy bank illion for U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturers to build U.S. computer chip capability. It is an effort to deal with the current global situation chip shortage and at the same time help the country compete with the Asian chip giants found in Taiwan, South Korea and China.

The bill also establishes tax credits and a separate fund to encourage investment and innovation in the US chip industry. However, it could be a a long time before we see the result of this bill, because it will take years for some these companies to create the necessary infrastructure. from Intel Ohio plant estimated at $20 billion may not produce consumer chips for years, says some analysts.

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