Dear U.S. President Barack Obama: The future direction of America’s civilian space program rests in your hands.

Your decisions must ensure that America builds upon a heritage of space leadership that has been hard-earned over the decades. Doing so will place this country on an energetic, inspiring and sustainable path in space — one that contributes to our technological productivity, economic growth and global stature in the 21st century.

You have the opportunity not only to maintain but to enhance our capabilities in space.

However, as recent studies have found, the U.S. human spaceflight program now finds itself on an unsustainable course in pursuit of goals that do not match allocated resources.

Congressional representatives from all across this nation have affirmed in no uncertain terms their belief that a strong space program is critical to the economic and technological success of the nation.

In many ways, your decisions regarding our space program hearken back to a time when America faced great challenges and difficulties — analogous to the complex issues that you are tackling as president and commander in chief today.

President John F. Kennedy took the high road of space. His leadership and investment in space set in motion the history-making giant leap to the Moon.

The Coalition for Space Exploration calls upon you to make certain our nation is pursuing the best trajectory for America’s space program — one that is safe, innovative, affordable and sustainable.

For over 50 years, dedicated men and women in government, industry and academia have worked tirelessly to establish a robust, vibrant and inspirational space program — not only one that reflects our passion for exploration, creativity and technological leadership, but one that is respected throughout the world.

The importance of U.S. leadership in space exploration, as seen by the global community of nations, cannot be underestimated. It remains a powerful tool in shaping, as well as implementing, U.S. foreign policy objectives.

This is not a legacy to lose, or a future to mortgage.

At this critical juncture, your leadership will determine the proper pace for the journey ahead, just as it did in 2008 when, as Senator Obama, you provided leadership to ensure provisions of the Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act would not limit NASA’s ability to work effectively with Russia. Now, as President Obama, you have the opportunity to demonstrate that same commitment to maintaining America’s global leadership of a venture that brings together many nations aligned with a common purpose — the peaceful exploration of space.

America’s space program is an investment in cutting-edge scientific inquiry for the 21st century, augmenting the country’s commerce, security and competitive stature among nations. Moreover, the past five decades of pioneering the space frontier have helped motivate generations of young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the true fuel that guarantees our well-being in the years ahead.

The Coalition for Space Exploration calls upon you to steer our space endeavor to greater heights.

We believe the ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path beyond low Earth orbit and into the solar system. There is no doubt that this is an ambitious goal, but it is one worthy of U.S. leadership in concert with a broad range of international partners.

Reaffirming America’s heritage of exploration engages the best and brightest of the nation to tackle energy, health and environmental concerns while seeking out new horizons beyond our home planet. And in boldly reaching outward, America’s space program improves our stewardship of Earth. As an example, the international space station — a gateway to future destinations — can be used to better measure the effects of global climate change. Space station research can delve into new vaccines and other promising biomedical investigations. This orbiting laboratory not only evaluates the long-term effects of spaceflight on humans but may well spur insights into maladies that afflict our citizenry.

The decisions you make in the weeks and months ahead will affect generations to come. A renewed space program will draw upon and reinvigorate our talent base. It will enhance our scientific and technological muscle, encourage innovation and motivate our youths.

Our investment in space will spearhead the science and technology strategies that drive economic recovery, job creation and economic growth. It is time to view the U.S. space program as a “renewable resource.” And today, you have the opportunity to shape a 21st-century space policy befitting our country’s greatness.


Gene Kranz, a former NASA flight director, and Miles O’Brien, a 26-year news veteran, are members of the Coalition for Space Exploration’s board of advisors. The letter also was signed by 18 other board members: Crystal Bloemen, educator; Guy Bluford, former NASA astronaut; Bradley Cheetham, aerospace engineering graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder; Bob Crippen, former NASA astronaut and Kennedy Space Center director; Roger Crouch, former NASA astronaut; Jake Garn, former U.S. senator and first member of Congress to fly in space; Fred Gregory, former NASA astronaut; Gerry Griffin, former NASA flight director; Bernard Harris, former NASA astronaut; Steve Hawley, former NASA astronaut; Tom Jones, former NASA astronaut; Joe Kerwin, former NASA astronaut; Jeanne Kregel, educator; Nick Lampson, former congressman; James “Jim” Lovell, former NASA astronaut; Joe Novak, second-year resident at Lackland Air Force Base’s Wilford Hall Medical Center in Texas; DamarisSarria, engineer for Boeing  Co. at Kennedy Space Center and aspiring NASA astronaut; and Dave Weldon, former congressman.