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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Immediate Future of Exploration

The NASA Budget

For those of you who are interested in supporting exploration, I thought I would pass on this urgent message I received from the Planetary Society:

The NASA budget is coming to a critical vote tomorrow -- July 15 -- by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation. This is the Committee that authorizes the NASA program. The planned authorization bill has some good features -- fully funding the President’s request for an increased budget for NASA, strong space and Earth science programs, and redirecting human space flight towards exploration into the solar system. It also increases support for the deep-space rocket and spacecraft necessary to take astronauts there.

But it has two big drawbacks:

It stops the rapid development of commercial rockets for Earth orbit crew transportation, while authorizing no new government program to replace the shuttle.
It cuts out most of the technology development (90%!) and robotic precursor missions related to the future of exploration, two of the brightest lights in the new exploration strategy.

Two amendments are being introduced tomorrow to correct these problems: one by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and the other by Senator Barbara Boxer of California. Together they will restore much of the technology program (increasing it by $356 million) and permit commercial launch vehicles to be developed to allow astronaut flights to the International Space Station sooner.

We urge you to call your Senators today and ask them to support the Warner and Boxer NASA Authorization Amendments -- especially if one of them is on the Senate Committee. A phone call is necessary -- there's no time for a written letter (these amendments just were announced late yesterday). These are the Committee members:

Jay Rockefeller, West Virginia, Chairman
Daniel Inouye, Hawaii
John Kerry, Massachusetts
Byron Dorgan, North Dakota
Barbara Boxer, California
Bill Nelson, Florida
Maria Cantwell, Washington
Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey
Mark Pryor, Arkansas
Claire McCaskill, Missouri
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
Tom Udall, New Mexico
Mark Warner, Virginia
Mark Begich, Alaska

Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas, Ranking Member
Olympia Snowe, Maine
John Ensign, Nevada
Jim DeMint, South Carolina
John Thune, South Dakota
Roger Wicker, Mississippi
Johnny Isakson, Georgia
David Vitter, Louisiana
Sam Brownback, Kansas
Mike Johanns, Nebraska
George LeMieux, Florida

You may call your Senator directly in Washington by calling the U.S. Capitol main number 202-224-3121 or find their office numbers through The Planetary Society Legislative Action site. Please call today; the vote is tomorrow morning.

Thank you for your consideration and prompt action -- no one is more devoted to the future of human and robotic space exploration than Members of The Planetary Society.


Louis Friedman
Executive Director

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