The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) applauds NASA’s Planetary Protection Independent Review Board (PPIRB) report and its recommendations to modernize and streamline NASA’s planetary protection policies. Key among the PPIRB’s recommendations is to ease the pursuit of new planetary mission opportunities and the participation of new players, particularly in the private sector. The early adoption and full implementation of these recommendations will increase the number and variety of missions flown and enable greater science and exploration of the Solar System. CSF recognizes the important principles behind planetary protection and supports the modernization of frameworks to enable the responsible exploration of areas of high astrobiological potential by both government and private sector missions.

“As NASA prepares for more frequent missions to celestial bodies for humans and research payloads, including to the Moon and Mars through commercial partnerships, it is important that the U.S. Government’s policies encourage and enable these missions,” said Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.  “The PPIRB’s report is an important step towards achieving that goal. We encourage NASA to adopt and implement the report’s recommendations and look forward to continuing to work with NASA, the Administration, and Congress to enable America’s continued public and private sector leadership in space exploration throughout the Solar System.”

The PPIRB was tasked by Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Science to conduct a 3-month independent look at updating biological contamination guidelines developed by COSPAR in light of current plans for Mars sample return, emerging capabilities for private sector robotic missions, eventual human missions to Mars, and the exploration of the icy moons of the outer planets. Numerous other major findings and recommendations, along with numerous supporting findings and recommendations, are detailed in the report, which can be found here.