(Washington) – U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation today to establish a series of goals to advance the nation’s human space flight program over the next twenty years.

Among the goals specified in the bill, the eight-year goal would require the development and flight demonstration of a reusable space vehicle capable of carrying humans from low Earth orbit to libration points in space, which could be used to assemble large-scale scientific observatories far beyond low Earth orbit. The twenty-year goal would require development of a reusable vehicle to carry humans to and from Martian orbit, development of a human occupied research facility on one of the moons of Mars, and development of a reusable vehicle to carry astronauts from Martian orbit to Mars and back.

The bill will allow the best, most innovative mission concepts to compete. The bill also sets tough requirements for periodic independent cost and schedule reviews to ensure that the exploration initiative is properly managed.

“The real obstacle we face in overcoming the drift in the nation’s human space flight program is not technological and it’s not financial – it’s the lack of commitment to get started. We don’t need another national commission to come up with goals for human space flight beyond low Earth orbit,” said Lampson. “What we need is a national commitment to carry out any one of the many worthy goals that have been articulated to date. The Space Exploration Act of 2002 provides this commitment with a concrete set of goals for the nation’s human space flight program after the International Space Station.”

The Ranking Democratic Member of the Science Committee, Rep. Ralph M. Hall said, “Rep. Lampson’s bill is an important step in establishing a vision for NASA’s human space flight program. I’m pleased to be a cosponsor of the bill, and I hope that the Science Committee will incorporate these goals in the NASA authorization bill when we mark it up next month.”

The bill also establishes an Office of Exploration within NASA to carry out the programs to meet the goals and authorizes $50 million and $200 million for FY 2003 and 2004, respectively.

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