The Planetary Society's political advocacy program educates and encourages policymakers to invest in space science and exploration. It enables and requires the participation of tens of thousands of Planetary Society members and supporters who take civic action in support of space.

Our advocacy work is the implementation side of The Planetary Society's Space Policy Program.

NASA Recommendations for the Biden Administration

NASA is not a problem to be solved but a tool that drives solutions. The Planetary Society recommends investments in science, exploration, and planetary defense as a means to invest in the national manufacturing and scientific workforce and strengthen international alliances.

Current Advocacy Priorities

While The Society's overall goals are outlined by its policy principles, the organization is reactive to and focused on the specific political situation faced by NASA each year. The following items are the organizational priorities for the calendar year 2022.

Our theme for this year is to better align NASA with the recommendations in the new planetary science decadal survey, the once-per-decade report from the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering.

For NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget:

Fund NASA's Planetary Science Division at $3.31 billion, an augmentation of $150 million.

This augmentation supports the following:

  • Restores $130 million to the asteroid-hunting space telescope, NEO Surveyor, for a total budget of $170 million, retaining the 2026 launch date
  • Supports the proposed funding levels for Mars Sample Return
  • Increases research funding for the nation's planetary scientists by 10% to $221 million
  • Enables a NASA contribution to an international Mars mission to map sub-surface ice

For NASA authorization legislation:

Endorse and prioritize Mars Sample Return

Congress should endorse Mars Sample Return (MSR) as the highest-priority science mission at the agency. It is the top recommendation of the new planetary science decadal survey and incorporates a strong international partnership with the European Space Agency.

Flexibility for Artemis Procurement and Partnerships

The Planetary Society believes that NASA should have the flexibility to implement Artemis in a manner that best serves the nation's interests in space — particularly by experimenting with fixed-price, public-private partnerships for the human landing system and other key elements of the program.

While we do not know if public-private partnerships will be successful in every domain, we do know that classic contracting methods for developing crewed exploration vehicles have repeatedly failed to meet cost and schedule milestones since the Apollo era. Competitively engaging both new and existing companies as partners in exploration is an experiment, but an experiment worth conducting. To that end, we recommend that any NASA authorization support public-private partnerships and fixed-price commercial procurement for exploration capabilities.

NEO Surveyor

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine endorsed the need for a dedicated space-based infrared telescope for finding Near Earth Objects (NEOs) in 2019. In 2022, the academies again supported this mission in the 2022 planetary science decadal survey, stating that "NASA should fully support the development, timely launch, and subsequent operation of NEO Surveyor". Unfortunately, NASA has proposed to cut $130M from the project in FY 2023, delaying the mission and raising its overall costs.

The Planetary Society proposes the following language for consideration in any NASA authorization legislation:

"The Administrator shall develop and, not later than 2026, launch a space-based infrared survey telescope that is capable of detecting near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter, with preference given to planetary missions selected by the Administrator as of the date of the enactment of this division to pursue concept design studies relating to the development of a space-based infrared survey telescope."

The Search for Life

Much of the work on astrobiology and the search for life is done at the individual level of researchers and mission technology development. NASA requires additional direction to prioritize this effort and to support the national scientific workforce necessary for this cross-disciplinary endeavor. We recommend that any legislation direct NASA to consolidate and define its goals for the search for life and encourage the agency to support ambitious research efforts, including the search for technosignatures.

We suggest the following language:

"TECHNOSIGNATURES.—In carrying out such a program, the Administrator shall support activities to search for and analyze technosignatures."

International Advocacy

As an organization based in the United States and dedicated to space science and exploration, our advocacy work is focused on the U.S. government and civil space issues. However, we seek out and share opportunities with our members around the world to take action where appropriate

Background and Context

The resources below provide additional background regarding our current advocacy priorities.

NASA Recommendations for the Biden Administration

NASA is not a problem to be solved but a tool that drives solutions. The Planetary Society recommends investments in science, exploration, and planetary defense as a means to invest in the national manufacturing and scientific workforce and strengthen international alliances.

NASA's FY 2023 Budget

The Biden Administration proposed $26 billion for NASA in 2023 — an 8% increase over the amount provided by Congress the previous year. See how these increases would be spread throughout the space agency.

NEO Surveyor, Protecting Earth from Dangerous Asteroids

NASA’s NEO Surveyor is a space telescope that will search for and study near-Earth objects.

Mars Sample Return, an international project to bring Mars to Earth

Despite advances in space technology, certain science questions, including whether or not a Mars rock contains signs of ancient life, can only be answered in Earth-based laboratories.

Space Policy Resources

Additional data, detailed reports, and policy proposals by The Planetary Society that outline the organization's priorities and recommendations.