"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267) authorized major changes of direction for NASA. Among these, it called for the development of a new, crew-capable, heavy-lift rocket, and it provided for the development of commercial services to transport NASA crews into low Earth orbit. However, under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 111-242 as amended by P.L. 111-322), NASA continues to operate under a requirement to proceed with its previous human spaceflight program. Moreover, in a period of fiscal constraint, it is unclear whether future appropriations will match the growing NASA budgets envisioned by the 2010 act. Thus the 112th Congress is likely to continue to closely examine the future of NASA. Before the 2010 act, NASA's priorities were governed by the Vision for Space Exploration. The Vision was announced by President Bush in January 2004 and endorsed by Congress in the 2005 and 2008 NASA authorization acts (P.L. 109-155 and P.L. 110-422). It directed NASA to focus its efforts on returning humans to the Moon by 2020 and some day sending them to Mars and 'worlds beyond.' The resulting efforts are approaching major decision points, such as the end of the space shuttle program and key milestones for the Constellation spacecraft development program intended to replace the shuttle. A high-level independent review of the future of human space flight, chaired by Norman R. Augustine, issued its final report in October 2009. It presented several options as alternatives to the Vision and concluded that for human exploration to continue 'in any meaningful way,' NASA would require an additional $3 billion per year above previous plans."
CRS Report for Congress, R41016
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/