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Rep. Lampson Re-Introduces Bill to Restore Vision for NASA's Human Spaceflight Program

Press Release From: Rep. Lampson
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2003

"America's human space flight program is adrift"

WASHINGTON,DC- After today's House Science Committee hearing on returning the Space Shuttle to flight, U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson re-introduced his Space Exploration Act. 

"Admiral Harold Gehman's Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report cites the 'lack of an agreed national vision for human space flight' over the past three decades as an organizational cause of the accident.  The report calls on the White House, Congress and NASA to honor the memory ofColumbia's crew by reflecting on the nation's future in space," Lampson said.  "I couldn't agree more.  Even before theColumbiaaccident, the future direction of many of NASA's programs such as Space Station and Space Shuttle were "To Be Determined.' "

"America's human space flight program is adrift, with no clear vision or commitment to any goals after the completion of the International Space Station.  The intent of the Space Exploration Act of 2003, is to provide a vision and a concrete set of goals for the nation's human space flight program after the International Space Station," said Lampson.  "This legislation sets forth specific incremental goals that are challenging, exciting and that build capabilities and infrastructure needed for an ultimate human mission to Mars."

The goals established by the Space Exploration Act of 2003are sequenced in terms of increasing difficulty and complexity.  Achieving the earlier goals will provide the capabilities needed for humans to explore other parts of the inner solar system while supporting the nation's scientific objectives.

The bill establishes an implementation framework that will allow the best, most innovative mission concepts to compete.  It is an approach similar to that of the highly successful and innovative Discovery program in NASA's space science enterprise.  In addition, the implementation approach contains tough requirements for periodic independent cost and program reviews to ensure that the exploration initiative is carried out in as cost-efficient and effective a manner as possible.

"The real obstacle we face in overcoming the drift in the nation's human space flight program is not technological and it's not financial - it's the lack of commitment to get started.  We don't need another national commission to come up with goals for human space flight beyond low Earth orbit," Lampson said.  "What we need is a national commitment to carry out any one of the many worthy goals that have been articulated to date."

"The Space Exploration Act of 2003will revitalize our space program, energize our industrial and academic sectors, create new opportunities for international cooperation, and inspire our young people," said Lampson.

A fact sheet on the bill follows:

Space Exploration Act of 2003 Fact Sheet

Requires the NASA Administrator to set the following goals for the future activities of NASA's human spaceflight program:

  • Within 8 years of enactment, the development and flight demonstration of a reusable space vehicle capable of carrying humans from low earth orbit to the L 1 and L 2 Earth-Sun libration points and back, to the Earth-Moon libration points and back, and to lunar orbit and back.
  • Within 10 years of enactment, the development and flight demonstration of a reusable space vehicle capable of carrying humans from low Earth orbit to and from an Earth-orbit crossing asteroid and rendezvousing with it.
  • Within 15 years of enactment, the development and flight demonstration of a reusable space vehicle capable of carrying humans from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon and back, as well as the deployment of a human-tended habitation and research facility on the lunar surface.
  • Within 20 years of enactment, the development and flight demonstration of a reusable space vehicle capable of carrying humans to and from Martian orbit, the deployment of a human tended habitation and research facility on the surface of a Martian moon, and the development and flight demonstration of a reusable space vehicle capable of carrying humans from Martian orbit to the surface of Mars and back.

The bill establishes an Office of Exploration within NASA, headed by an Associate Administrator, which will be responsible for planning, budgeting, and managing activities undertaken to accomplish the above goals.

The Administrator will be required to establish a process for conducting competitions for innovative, cost-effective mission concepts to accomplish the above goals, which will be open to industry, academia, nongovernmental research organizations, NASA Centers, and other governmental organizations.

International participation and cost sharing will be encouraged.  The Administrator will be required to establish an independent panel to conduct a merit-based competitive review of the proposals submitted and an independent external review of the cost estimate and funding profile of the competitively selected proposals.  These findings must be reported to Congress.

The implementation plans of the competitively selected proposals must be updated every year by the manager of the project and the Administrator must have an independent external review panel review each of the updated implementation plans and report these findings to Congress.

The bill authorizes $50 million for FY 2004 and $200 million for FY 2005.       

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