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Congress backs Obama's Nasa plan

Congress has approved a blueprint for Nasa's future that extends the life of the space shuttle programme while backing President Barack Obama's intent to use commercial carriers to lift humans into near-Earth space.

The House vote late on Wednesday sends to Mr Obama a Bill that rewrites Nasa's space agenda.

It dismantles the programme under which former President George W Bush sought to return astronauts to the moon, and extends the life of the International Space Station from 2015 to 2020.

The Bill relies mainly on the still-nascent commercial space industry to transport astronauts to the space station over the next five years.

But in a nod to concerns about Nasa jobs, it also speeds up development of a heavy launch vehicle and funds the shuttle programme for another year.

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