Arlington, Va. - Presidential campaigns should publicly express their support of NASA's Constellation Program to ensure America's leadership in space exploration as well as boost education, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said.
The exploration program, which will return astronauts to the moon and explore Mars and beyond, should not be delayed under any circumstances since there is already a manned spaceflight gap looming.
"Space exploration brings enormous national security, economic and scientific benefits to our nation and should be a win-win issue for all the candidates to endorse," Blakey said. "Presidential hopefuls should make their support of Constellation clear and make it an integral part of their campaigns."
Over the last two weeks Constellation has emerged as a campaign issue after suggestions by candidates from both parties that the program could be delayed. Other candidates immediately countered with their strong support of the program.
Under current funding, there will be a five-year gap in U.S. manned space access after the shuttles are retired in 2010. During that time the United States will need to rely on Russia for access to the International Space Station, which was recently designated a U.S. national laboratory.
Constellation will have a powerful effect in attracting students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies, disciplines in which the nation is lacking, Blakey said.