"We urge Congress to support the Administration's plan for NASA," says The Planetary Society in a statement to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, Justice and Related Agencies of the Senate Committee on Appropriations that meets on Thursday, April 22.
"The [Administration's] plan heralds a bold, sustainable vision for space exploration, harnessing the energy and creativity of the private sector and setting forth measured, achievable steps to getting humanity off our tiny, vulnerable planet and into the wide cosmos."
Striking the right balance in priorities, the new plan for NASA sets, "realistic near-term goals for human exploration missions, while making critical investments in technology to enable increasingly complex future missions, ultimately leading to a human landing on Mars."
Giving NASA a new direction calls for difficult changes, notably the cancellation of Constellation. But changing to a fresh, new approach offers many opportunities as well. The Planetary Society's statement recommends several specific actions to Congress, including:
Make the Mars goal explicit.
Make heavy-lift launch a priority.
Provide robust technology funding.
Conduct a Mars sample return mission by the early 2020s.
Encourage international cooperation.
The Planetary Society urges Congress to use the Administration's proposal to finally advance human exploration beyond Earth orbit and beyond the Moon.
Teleconference Follows Committee Hearing
Following the Appropriations Committee hearing, Planetary Society officers, Jim Bell, Bill Nye and Louis Friedman, will host a teleconference for the media to allow former astronauts, scientists, and other space industry leaders to discuss the new NASA plan and answer questions from the press. The telecon phone number and passcode will be distributed Thursday, April 22, or you can contact Susan Lendroth for the information at 626-793-5100 ext 237, firstname.lastname@example.org.