Planetary Society Statement on H.R. 5666, the NASA Authorization Act of 2020

“The Planetary Society is concerned that H.R. 5666, as written, could disrupt and delay a planned return of U.S. astronauts to deep space.”

Press Statement
January 28, 2020

Danielle Gunn
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

The Planetary Society, the world's largest independent space interest organization, issued the following statement regarding H.R. 5666, the NASA Authorization Act of 2020:

"Many of the provisions in H.R. 5666 align with The Planetary Society's principles for human spaceflight, notably its commitment to Mars and a step-wise approach to exploration.

However, The Society's overriding human spaceflight principle is that astronauts should once again voyage beyond low-Earth orbit. The Society is concerned that H.R. 5666, as written, would disrupt and delay a planned return of U.S. astronauts to deep space.

The Planetary Society believes that NASA should have the flexibility to best implement its efforts at the Moon and beyond. To that end, The Society recommends that the committee remove the provisions restricting activities and limiting competition for exploration capabilities.

The Planetary Society endorses many of the legislation's strong science provisions, including policies to establish a more robust planetary defense effort, ensure the development of WFIRST, and critically evaluate the launch vehicle selection for Europa Clipper.

The Society welcomes the supportive language for Mars Sample Return, while recommending that the legislation go further and formally authorize the program. NASA, its international partners, and the science community have the right strategy and are ready to go. The Planetary Society looks forward to working with the Space and Science committees to formally authorize the implementation of Mars Sample Return."

Press Resources

About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit