The National Space Society today hailed Congress on its foresight to fully fund the NASA budget for FY2005. The budget, which allocates $16.2 billion to the agency, means that NASA will be full speed ahead for the key next steps in the exploration vision: return to flight of the shuttle, back to the Moon and on to Mars.
"Today, we recognize President Bush, the Hon. Tom Delay, and Administrator O'Keefe for fighting hard in a challenging fiscal environment for what they knew was right for our country," said NSS Executive Director George Whitesides.
"NSS members and grassroots supporters of space have a right to be proud," continued Whitesides. "It was their vocal support - including the 1700 letters submitted in the final week of deliberations - that may have been the tipping point for this space victory."
All eyes will now turn to NASA itself, which must prove that it is worthy of such support. What the agency does in this critical first year of the exploration vision will have a lasting influence on the years ahead. The agency must aggressively pursue the critical new technologies and vehicles which will enable the ambitious goals of the vision. And it must immediately and meaningfully engage with the emerging private space sector, which may have the innovative ideas that make the vision a reality.
"NASA must literally remake itself if it is to be successful," continued Whitesides. "The choices NASA makes in 2005 will show whether it is an agency that is capable of meaningful change. NASA carries our hopes and dreams with it - and all NSS members will be watching closely to see if the agency upholds that responsibility."
The legislative victory is also a victory for consensus- based efforts such as those organized by the Coalition for Space Exploration and the Space Exploration Alliance, two organizations of which NSS is a member. Such broad campaigns reinforce the wide support space enjoys across various constituencies.
About National Space Society
The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society also publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space.
For more information about NSS, and how to join, visit: http://www.nss.org