The Bush Administration's proposed 5-year budget for NASA, just submitted to Congress, is an attack on science," states the opening line of The Planetary Society's statement submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Thursday morning, February 16, 2006. Read the complete statement on the Society's website.
The Society objects to numerous cuts or cancellations of such projects as a mission to Jupiter's ice-bound moon Europa, the Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, two Mars Scout missions, and more. The Society also criticizes the proposed budget for downplaying Mars as a goal for human exploration and cutting astrobiology research 50% and science research funding generally 15% across all Earth and space science disciplines.
Funding is being redirected to the shuttle program in order to complete the International Space Station. The Planetary Society, however, states that the commitment to 16 more flights of the shuttle for this purpose is the biggest danger to implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration. The Society asks what might be cut from the NASA budget in the future if there are more delays or higher costs?
In response to this budget, The Planetary Society has urged its members and interested members of the public to show their support for space science by writing to Congress and the Administration about the cuts. In the 2 days since the campaign began, more than 1000 messages have been sent to Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert and other members of Congress and the Administration via the Society's website.
The Society statement concludes with the following:
"The Planetary Society supports space ventures. We have supported the shuttle: it has been a great technical achievement, unequalled on Earth. We have supported the International Space Station: it should be completed as a pathway for human expansion into the solar system. And, from the moment it was proposed, we have strongly supported the Vision for Space Exploration, a long overdue redirection of human space flight beyond Earth orbit.
But we cannot support a proposal that hobbles, or eventually destroys, the NASA science program. Science guides not just robots but also humans into space. Science guides the public in creating a rationale for a $16 billion space program. Science guides exploration. And we ask, and hope, that support of science will guide you as you oversee the NASA program."