HOUSTON – The Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) supports the President’s request of $17.7B for NASA in 2014, and is encouraged by the continued investment in Space as a driver of the U.S economy. However, the Coalition is concerned this budget request is contingent upon Congressional approval of an alternative sequestration proposed by the President, which if not adopted would reduce the proposed budget by nearly one billion dollars. In the event of further sequestration budget constraints, it remains unclear whether NASA would have enough funds to accomplish current programs, yet alone newly proposed initiatives.
Within this budget request, a proposed new asteroid mission that could serve as a stepping stone for deep space exploration will help focus discussion on America’s next steps toward deep space exploration. The Coalition recognizes that a number of technical and operational issues still must be addressed and resolved before a consensus can be reached. The Coalition welcomes this as an opportunity for the Administration and Congress to work towards bipartisan consensus on the pathway for the nation’s space exploration program, ultimately leading to human exploration of Mars.
In addition, attention must be given to ensure that the capabilities, such as significant progress already underway on the development of SLS and Orion, must remain on track to support the already planned 2017 Orion and SLS test flight and 2021 crewed Orion exploration missions. There is reason to be concerned in that regard as a result of the proposed reductions in SLS and Orion program funding levels, which is less than the FY2013 budget.
NASA is a powerful national resource whose impact is felt most when it has a clear mission and the required funding to support its programs. It will take leadership, vision and investment to ensure that America’s future in space is secured and that we reap the many benefits that exploration brings.
We urge the Administration and Congress to work together to ensure NASA has a clearly defined mission and the necessary resources it needs to advance our space program as one worthy of a great nation.