Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before ...

A bipartisan letter signed by 32 members of the House of Representatives was released Monday by the office of Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), who heads the House Space Subcommittee.

The letter demands that President Obama “chart and clearly state a vision and timeline for the nation in deep space exploration.”

The problem with this letter is that the White House did just that in August 2012. Congress ignored the report.

The report was titled, NASA Exploration Destinations, Goals, and International Collaboration.

In the NASA appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2012, Congress included this language:

“The conferees believe that NASA needs to better articulate a set of specific, scientifically meritorious exploration goals to focus its program and provide a common vision for future achievements. Consequently, the conferees direct NASA to develop and report to the Committees on Appropriations a set of science-based exploration goals; a target destination or destinations that will enable the achievement of those goals; a schedule for the proposed attainment of these goals; and a plan for any proposed collaboration with international partners. Proposed international collaboration should enhance NASA’s exploration plans rather than replace capabilities NASA is developing with current funds. This report shall be submitted no later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act.”

The report went to Congress in August 2012. Eleven pages long, it detailed science-based exploration goals, target destinations, use of the International Space Station as a testbed for deep-space missions, asteroid missions, and the eventual goal of Mars. The report concluded with a detailed timeline.

Congress did nothing.

Here we are less than two years later, and Congress falsely claims once again that the Administration has failed to articulate a vision or a timeline.

In December 2012, the National Academies issued a report listing seventeen reports sent to Congress between 1986 and 2010 “concerning NASA's strategic direction.” It would appear that Congress gave those little thought as well.

Space Coast representative Bill Posey (R-FL) is one of the 32 signatories to the latest letter. I'm going to visit his web site and remind his staff that this was done in 2012, and ask why he failed to respond to it then. I suspect he'll fail to respond to it now as well.

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