The Planetary Society Responds to Proposed Senate Space Policy Bill

NASA Transition Authorization Act Would Help Provide Continuity for Key Programs Through Administration Transition

Press Statement
September 21, 2016

Erin Greeson
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Washington, D.C. – The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 (S.3346) was approved today by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The legislation is designed to provide congressional direction on major NASA programs during the upcoming U.S. administration transition.

Casey Dreier, director of space policy at The Planetary Society — the world's largest non-governmental space advocacy group — issued the following statement in response:

“The Planetary Society is pleased to see many of our recommendations for NASA’s near-term direction reflected in the Senate’s NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 (S.3346). As a new Administration enters office in 2017, this bill could help provide important continuity for NASA’s efforts to send humans to Mars and search for life beyond Earth.

“The Planetary Society first called on NASA to define an executable plan for sending humans to Mars in our 2015 report, Humans Orbiting Mars: A Critical Step Toward the Red Planet, which analyzed the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-developed concept for human exploration of Mars that is highlighted in this legislation. We welcome the requirement laid out by this legislation that NASA define a strategic framework for getting to Mars and are gratified that an orbit-first approach to explore the moons of Mars is readily accepted.

“Additionally, this legislation highlights the importance of continuing several major science programs currently in development, including the Mars 2020 rover, the Europa multi-flyby mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the Wide-Field Infrared Space Telescope. We are pleased to see that this legislation reiterates the importance of following the recommendations made through the National Academies’ Decadal Survey process.

“We strongly urge the authorizing committees to work with the appropriations committees in both chambers to ensure that funding for NASA’s leading science programs is sufficient to fully carry out the priorities of the decadal surveys. NASA’s science missions provide unique data and groundbreaking exploration of the cosmos and our own planet, and are critical tools to better understand our origins, the broader cosmos, our changing climate, and whether life exists beyond Earth. These missions engage and inspire the public with their bold exploration and they deserve continued support.”

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