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."
For an expanded discussion of our position, please reference The Planetary Society's statement for the record, submitted to the leadership of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee in the House of Representatives for the markup of H.R. 5666.
The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.