WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, who represents Johnson Space Center and sits on the House Committee on Science, issued the following statement today regarding President Bush’s announcement of a new plan for NASA:

“The President and I share much of the same vision for our nation’s space exploration program. This is the first major Presidential commitment on space exploration in many years, a commitment that will hopefully get us back on track for returning to the moon and eventually going to Mars.  President Bush deserves credit for making the announcement and I look forward to working with him in the months to come.  This is a new year, and I look forward to a new vision for NASA.

“The announcement echoes many of the goals that I have been advocating, as well as a bill I introduced both in the last Congress and in this session, the Space Exploration Act.  I support the goals that I heard today, especially Mars as the ultimate destination, but I want to look closely and make sure that this plan is executable.

“It is my hope that the President’s announcement is more than a speech or a piece of paper, that it is a real plan for the space program.  Going back to the Moon and on to Mars is not a shoe string operation, it is going to take real money in a time of tight budgets.

“The announcement for an early phase out of the space shuttle fleet and ending major U.S efforts with the space station raises a lot of concerns. The shuttle fleet is still recovering from last year’sColumbia tragedy, and the station has had its share of challenges, but I think it is premature to plan on abandoning either.

“To make this work the President has to include Congress in his discussions, and this needs to have a bipartisan approach.  Congress – and the House Space Subcommittee that I help lead – will ask some hard questions about the proposal.  If the President is serious about a ten year time frame, we will have to see some important developments during the coming months.  This announcement is past due, but it is a useful starting point for discussion.”