Examiner.com | Congress pushes back against NASA abandonment of the moon
Congress pushes back against NASA abandonment of the moon
By Mark Whittington | Examiner.com | April 10, 2013
In an April 10, 2013 post on his congressional website, Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fl , has announced a push back against NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s declaration that the moon is off limits to Americans with the Re-Asserting American Leadership in Space Act or REAL Space Act.
“Specifically, the REAL Space Act directs NASA to plan to return to the Moon by 2022 and develop a sustained human presence there as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations within our solar system. The legislation also emphasizes the importance of maintaining the United States’ preeminence in space, and underscores the necessity of preserving America’s independent access to space.
“Returning to the Moon presents many scientific, technological and economic benefits for the United States and the world at large. The economic contribution of NASA’s space program is in the tens of billions of dollars. The technologies developed through and transferred from our nation's program have created advancements across all disciplines of science and advances in healthcare in particular have saved and enriched countless lives.
“Aside from providing a training ground for space faring enabling technologies, humans still have much to learn from exploring the Moon. To date, twelve Americans have explored a section of our Moon smaller than the National Mall. There are many minerals, isotopes, and other natural resources that can be gleaned from the Moon’s surface such as ice deposits, which can be used to sustain an outpost or produce rocket propellant for deep space exploration.
“Setting the Moon as the goal will reengage the public’s interest in the space program and inspire a new generation of American students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) where they currently lag behind students in competitor nations.”
The REAL Space Act has the following members of Congress as co-sponsors besides Posey: Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, Chairman Frank Wolf, R-VA, Robert Aderholt, R-AL, John Culberson, R-TX, Steve Stockman, R-TX, Pete Olson, R-TX, Rob Bishop, R-UT and Ted Poe, R-TX.
Bolden stated at a recent conference that Americans would not mount a return to the lunar surface in his lifetime and would concentrate on missions to asteroids and eventually to Mars. This assertion was at variance to the conclusions of a recent National Research Council report that concluded that there was no support for the asteroid mission, even within NASA, and that a new direction, preferably back to the moon, should be undertaken. The members of Congress who are sponsoring the REAL Space Act seem to be responding to the NRC recommendations in their push back to the moon.
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