US Senate panel sets NASA on course to asteroids

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama's plan to send US astronauts to an asteroid and other deep space destinations instead of returning to the moon has received a boost from a Senate panel that also agreed to extend the life of the space shuttle program.
The Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a compromise for NASA's future that also fuses the White House's desire for commercial space development with a demand from lawmakers that the space agency develop more quickly a new heavy lift rocket.
The committee's plan would give at least another year of life to the space shuttle and extend the International Space Station until at least 2020.
Revamping NASA's manned space goals has met strong resistance from lawmakers concerned about possible job losses.
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