Space Advocates Take Message to Congress

Washington,D.C., - As the congressional markup of the NASA budget approaches, the SpaceExploration Alliance (SEA) launched its 2006 Space Blitz on Congress Monday demonstratinggrassroots, citizen support for space exploration.

The allianceis a partnership of the nation's premier non-profit space organizations with acombined membership of more than 100,000 people throughout the United States.

The SEASpace Blitz is a legislative outreach event that brings together ordinarypeople from around the country to voice their support for the Vision for SpaceExploration and for full funding of a space program that the United States can be proud of. The participants donate their time and pay their own way tothe event based on their belief that the nation must continue to lead thefuture of space exploration and development. The blitz runs until Wednesday.

"Weare here to tell Congress that space is deeply important to the American people"said Greg Allison, Executive Vice President of the National Space Society andan organizer of this year's event. "We are here to keep the Vision for SpaceExploration a key priority for the United States. Congressional votes on spacefunding matter to the members of SEA and will determine how we vote in theupcoming elections this November."

TheAlliance includes the American Astronautical Society, American Institute ofAeronautics and Astronautics, Aerospace Industries Association, AerospaceStates Association, the California Space Authority, Federation of GalaxyExplorers, Florida Space Authority, Moon Society, Mars Society, NASA AlumniLeague, National Coalition of Spaceport States, National Society of BlackEngineers, National Space Society, The Planetary Society, Space Access Society,the Space Generation Foundation, and the X PRIZE Foundation.

The mainfocus of this year's event is to request that Congress fund NASA at the fullauthorized level of $17.9 billion, which would require an additional $1.1billion over the President's request. This level is required to enable NASA toimplement the full mandate of the 2005 NASA Authorization Act, in whichCongress endorsed the Vision for Space Exploration.

Specifically,the additional funds will allow NASA to aggressively develop the nextgeneration of space exploration vehicles, while pursuing other importantobjectives like: Connecting upcoming lunar exploration work with future humanexploration of Mars; stimulating private sector efforts with programs likeCommercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) and the Centennial Challengeprogram; and sustaining vital science missions, including the TerrestrialPlanet Finder (TPF), a dedicated probe of the Planet Jupiter's moon Europa, andthe Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOPHIA).

During theblitz, organizers plan to take these messages to the offices of the members ofthe House Committee on Appropriations, plus key members of the Senate Committeeon Appropriations and other Congressional leaders.

The 2006Space Blitz represents the third straight year that SEA has come together todemonstrate its support for space before Congress. It is also the second in aseries of four legislative programs that SEA is planning for 2006.

Accordingto Chris Carberry, Blitz Chairman and Political Director of the Mars Society,"It is our goal to keep up the pressure on Congress--not just to visitCongress once a year, but to bring the message to our legislators and theirstaff continually."

NOTE: The views of this article are the author's and do not reflect the policies of the National Space Society.

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