Why Explore Space?

  • Historically, societies that have pushed their frontiers outward have prospered
  • Exploration inspires society and helps establish long-term goals for our nation
  • The U.S. is the world leader in human space exploration and must maintain – and strengthen – that position
  • Space exploration
    • develops new technology which yields economic and scientific benefits
    • motivates and inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers
    • enables scientific and medical discoveries not possible in Earth’s gravity
    • provides a global perspective on changes in Earth’s environment and resources
    • is a small investment in our future — less than 7/10th of 1% of the federal budget is allocated for NASA’s efforts

    Humans & Robots

    • Any balanced space exploration and development effort uses both
    • Robots can explore destinations which are too remote or hostile for humans and obtain the scientific information necessary for human missions—however, humans will far surpass the capabilities of robots for the foreseeable future
    • For example, despite advances in robotic technology, we still send researchers today to Antarctica, the depths of the ocean, and other hostile environments here on Earth
    • The mobility, dexterity, intellect, reaction time, situational awareness, and observations of human explorers will always surpass the capabilities of robotic or automated probes, even those remotely operated by humans – if robots could replace humans, scientific laboratories on Earth would not be staffed by people
    • Human exploration is critical to lay the groundwork for a permanent presence in space

    Guiding Principles

    • The U.S. should strengthen its leadership in human space exploration by building on the principles in the 1988 National Space Policy and direct federal departments and agencies to permanently open the space frontier to enable the U.S. and humanity to receive the enormous benefits from the exploration, development, and settlement of space
    • Low cost, robust, and reliable access to space is the single largest barrier to further advancement in space exploration and development
    • A significant federal role will continue be critical in the exploration and development of space – but the federal government, especially NASA, needs to be a reliable customer for the private sector and should solicit, encourage and foster free market solutions and entrepreneurs where feasible


    • Increase overall NASA funding to meet existing and new priorities
    • Return the Space Shuttle to Flight to complete the International Space Station (ISS) and service the Hubble Space Telescope
    • Fully fund and complete the International Space Station through “International Partner Complete” and maximize the ISS crew complement to realize its full scientific research capacity
    • Build the Orbital Space Plane on an accelerated schedule using available technology – the right design can be used not only to complement the Space Shuttle in supporting ISS but also for future exploration missions beyond LEO
    • Create guidelines to foster and appropriately regulate the emerging suborbital launch industry and provide statutory direction to the FAA on an overall regulatory framework
    • Continue funding for the Alternate Access to Station program

    Recommendations (continued)

    • Develop a long-term space exploration architecture to provide a clear direction for the future, including a return to the Moon (this time to stay) and beyond
    • Support Project Prometheus to fund the development of advanced propulsion and power systems
    • Fund a next generation technology launch system – using a partnership of NASA, DoD, and the private sector – to continue the research and technology developments required to replace the Space Shuttle and current ELVs
    • The Department of Defense should be assigned the task of developing protections for American space assets and the nation from orbital debris and Earth-crossing asteroids and comets

    The Moon

    • possesses a unique environment for cutting edge physics, biological research, and astronomical observation.
    • contains a wide range of raw materials (such as Helium 3, silicon, aluminum, and titanium) that could demonstrate the use of lunar resources to lower the cost of deep space exploration.
    • has regolith from which oxygen can be extracted (a technique proven with Apollo lunar samples), and sources of hydrogen that, together, can be used as an early source of air, water, and fuel.
    • and its resources could be used for power generation for either terrestrial or lunar use.

    Need More Information?

    Executive Director, National Space Society
    600 Pennsylvania Ave., SE _ Suite 201
    Washington, DC 20003
    (202) 543-1900 _ (202) 546-4189 (fax)
    brian@nss.org _ www.nss.org