Yesterday, the Planetary Society issued a statement about the request that the U.S. House of Representatives suspend the rules when voting on the NASA Authorization bill, saying, in part, "The future of the space program is too important to rush through a controversial change in policy." The following is an update to that statement.
"It ain't over 'til its over." The Congressional calendar for today shows that the NASA Authorization bill will not be considered by the House of Representatives. The Coalition for Space Exploration (of which the Planetary Society is a member) is reporting that they have heard that the bill will not be considered. It seems that opposition from many space interests (including us) helped to convince the House leadership that it was not right to rush this bill through without adequate debate and possible amendment.
We'll take the month of August to regroup and consider how to deal with the mess in Congress concerning the NASA budget. Four very different bills have passed in four different Congressional committees, and none of them have any exploration goals specifically cited! Meanwhile, NASA will have a chance to put some meat on the bones of the Administration's new exploration plan -- with goals of sending humans beyond the Moon, then to a near-Earth asteroid, and then to Mars.
A big first step will be consideration of the human asteroid mission. The Planetary Society will be participating in an upcoming NASA workshop on this subject, and we're getting ready to announce a new competition to advance the concept of humans exploring an asteroid. So stay tuned!