By Nick Lampson and the Coalition for Space Exploration
*Originally published by the Coalition for Space Exploration on December 7, 2009
Dear President Obama:
The future of America’s civilian space program rests in your hands.
Your decisions must ensure that America builds upon a heritage of space leadership that has been hard-earned over the decades. Doing so will place this country on an energetic, inspiring and sustainable path in space – one that contributes to our technological productivity, economic growth and global stature in the 21st century.
You have the opportunity to enhance our capabilities in space.
But as recent studies have found, the U.S. human spaceflight program now finds itself on an unsustainable course in pursuit of goals that do not match resources. Congressional representatives from across this nation have affirmed in no uncertain terms their belief that a strong space program is critical to the economic and technological success of the nation.
In many ways, your decisions regarding our space program harken back to a time when America faced great challenges and difficulties – analogous to the complex issues that you are tackling as Commander in Chief today.
President John F. Kennedy took the high road of space. His leadership and investment in space set in motion the history-making leap to the Moon.
The Coalition for Space Exploration calls upon you to make certain our nation pursues the best trajectory for America’s space program – one that is safe, innovative, affordable and sustainable.
For over 50 years, dedicated individuals in government, industry and academia have worked tirelessly to establish a robust, vibrant and inspirational space program that reflects our passion for exploration, creativity and technological leadership and is respected throughout the world.
The importance of U.S. leadership in space exploration, as seen by the global community of nations, cannot be underestimated. It remains a powerful tool in shaping, as well as implementing, U.S. foreign policy.
This is not a legacy to lose nor a future to mortgage.
At this critical juncture, your leadership will determine the proper pace for the journey ahead just as it did in 2008 when, as Senator Obama, you provided leadership to ensure provisions of the Iran North Korea Syria Non-Proliferation Act would not limit NASA’s ability to work effectively with Russia. Now, as President Obama, you have the opportunity to demonstrate that same commitment to maintaining America’s leadership of a venture that brings together many nations aligned with a common purpose – the peaceful exploration of space.
America’s space program is an investment in cutting-edge scientific inquiry for the 21st century, augmenting the country’s commerce, security and competitive stature among nations.
Moreover, the past five decades of pioneering the space frontier have helped motivate generations of young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the true fuel that guarantees our wellbeing in the years ahead.
The Coalition calls upon you to steer our space endeavor to greater heights.
We believe the ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path beyond low Earth orbit and into the solar system. This is an ambitious goal, but one worthy of U.S. leadership in concert with a broad range of international partners.
Reaffirming America’s heritage of exploration engages the best and brightest of the nation to tackle energy, health and environmental concerns while seeking out new horizons beyond our home planet. And in boldly reaching outward, America’s space program improves our stewardship of Earth.
International Space Station research can investigate new vaccines and other biomedical breakthroughs. As it exposes the long-term effects of spaceflight on humans, the orbiting laboratory offers new insight into common illnesses.
The decisions you make will affect generations to come. A renewed space program will reinvigorate our talent base. It will enhance our scientific and technological muscle, encourage innovation and motivate our youth.
Our investment in space will spearhead the science and technology strategies that drive economic recovery, job creation and economic growth. It is time to view the U.S. space program as a “renewable resource.” Today, you have the opportunity to shape a 21st century space policy befitting our country’s greatness.
Signed by the following members of the Coalition for Space Exploration Board of Advisors:
- Nick Lampson, former Congressman
- Crystal Bloemen, educator with more than 27 years of experience
- Dr. Guy Bluford Jr., former NASA astronaut
- Bradley Cheetham, aerospace engineering graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder
- Bob Crippen, former NASA astronaut and Kennedy Space Center director
- Dr. Roger Crouch, former NASA astronaut
- Jake Garn, former Congressman and first member of Congress to fly in space
- Fred Gregory, former NASA astronaut
- Gerry Griffin, former NASA flight director
- Dr. Bernard Harris, former NASA astronaut
- Dr. Steve Hawley, former NASA astronaut
- Dr. Tom Jones, former NASA astronaut
- Dr. Joe Kerwin, former NASA astronaut
- Gene Kranz, former NASA flight director
- Jeanne Kregel, educator with more than 13 years of experience
- Jim Lovell Jr., former NASA astronaut
- Dr. Joe Novak, second-year resident at Lackland Air Force Base’s Wilford Hall Medical Center
- Miles O’Brien, 26-year news veteran
- Damaris Sarria, engineer for The Boeing Company at Kennedy Space Center and aspiring NASA astronaut
- Dr. Dave Weldon, former Congressman