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Lampson Bill Will Restore Vision to NASA's Human Spaceflight Program

Press Release From: Rep. Lampson
Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson announced that he was introducing legislation to provide a vision and a concrete set of goals for the nation's human space flight program after the International Space Station. "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 Space Exploration Act of 2002 sets forth specific incremental goals that are challenging, exciting and that build capabilities and infrastructure needed for an ultimate human mission to Mars," said Lampson.

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."

"Once America gets started on achieving the first of the human spaceflight goals listed in the bill, we have gotten over the highest hurdles, success in the entire initiative," said Lampson. "We will once again be moving outward beyond low Earth orbit. And in the process, we will revitalize our space program, energize our industrial and academic needs, create new opportunities for international cooperation, and inspire our young people."

A fact sheet on The Space Exploration Act of 2002 follows.

Space Exploration Act of 2002

Fact Sheet

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 2003 and $200 million for FY 2004.

CONTACT: Khristyn Brimmeier
OFFICE: (202)225-6565

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