|U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo's district includes NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center [Rollcall].|
Deborah Barfield Berry and Ledyard King
Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) plans to use his chairmanship of a House panel on space this year to again promote a return-to-the-moon mission and lobby against President Obama's plan to use an asteroid as a stepping-stone to remote sensing Mars from martian orbit.
"With the expanded majorities, we're going to continue to put an emphasis on America remaining the leader in space," Palazzo said in a recent interview. "America's leadership in space is no longer just a matter of national pride, it's become a matter of national security."
|US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), new chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space and Competitiveness, outlined plans to "focus NASA on its core mission, exploring Space and more of it," on January 14 [AP].|
"Right now, they say, 'We're going to Mars,'" Palazzo said of NASA officials. "Well, that's great, but they haven't said how we're going to get there. So no one knows what to build, how to build it, when to build it or how to pay for it."
He said the moon, which the U.S. last visited in 1972, is a more logical route to the Red Planet than an asteroid.
But with limited funding for NASA, it will be harder for Palazzo and other supporters of a lunar mission to win support, said Stephen Rozman, a political scientist at Tougaloo College in Mississippi.
"They're going to have to show a real reason for rebuilding or taking the program to the next level right now," he said.
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