Sunday, January 25, 2015

Palazzo to push lunar surface expeditions

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo's district includes NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center [Rollcall].
Deborah Barfield Berry and Ledyard King
Hattiesburg American

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.

Palazzo also chaired the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Space in the last Congress, but this year he sees a possible boost for his priorities in the GOP's takeover of the Senate.

"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].
One pressing issue this year, he said, will be helping NASA craft a "road map."

"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.

Orion and Altair: architecture envisioned within NASA in 2007, before Congress, acting on the recommendation the Obama administration, eliminated research and development for surface expeditions on the Moon and on Mars. Along with operations in Cislunar space or retrieving an asteroid NASA's leadership today proposes robotic exploration of the martian surface and of Phobos controlled from Mars orbit [NASA/Frassinito & Associates].
"I think most people agree, just because we've done it doesn't mean we can't do it again," Palazzo said.

Palazzo's district is home to Stennis Space Center, a rocket testing site that Palazzo said employs more than 4,000 workers.

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.

Read the entire article HERE.

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