In this image provided by NASA space shuttle Atlantis is revealed after retraction of the pad's rotating service structure Thursday evening May 13, 2010 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis is scheduled to launch Friday at 2:20 p.m. EDT. (AP photo/NASA - Jack Pfaller)
Those concerned are hopeful that House lawmakers will approve the NASA authorization bill already approved by the Senate.
"For the sake of providing certainty, stability and clarity to the NASA work force and larger space community, I felt it was better to consider a flawed bill than no bill at all," said Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee that oversees NASA policy.
The Senate's NASA plan calls for building an early heavy lift rocket, which insiders say is a win-win because it does several critical, strategic things for the future of human spaceflight:
At this point the Senate's plan would retain a seasoned, well-trained launch team instead of seeing this highly skilled workforce relocate to other high-tech fields.
The House authorization vote is expected to come Wednesday afternoon or evening. A separate NASA appropriations bill is likely to be considered after the November elections.
Jay Barbree is NBC News' Cape Canaveral correspondent and the only reporter who has broadcast every mission flown by American astronauts for the same television network. He is also the author of numerous books about space exploration, including his latest work, "Live from Cape Canaveral."