The Vision for Space Exploration this week enters its third year as the nation continues on a steadfast course to continue flying the Space Shuttle, finish assembly of the International Space Station, return humans to the Moon, and continue on to Mars.

During the past two years, NASA and its industry partners have made significant progress in bringing the Vision alive, highlighted by the return to flight of Space Shuttle Discovery in July 2005 and the ongoing exploration of the Solar System by robotic probes and surface rovers.

In the meantime, plans for building the replacement spacecraft for the Space Shuttle – known as the Crew Exploration Vehicle, or CEV – and the launch vehicle it will be flown on are progressing. Initial test flights of new hardware from the Kennedy Space Center could begin as early as 2008.

“This is an exciting and important time for our Nation as the Vision begins to move forward. With the continuation of Shuttle missions, this year, and the completion of the International Space Station, the architecture of a new era of exploration and discovery will also be taking shape,” said Jeff Carr, chairman of the Coalition for Space Exploration’s Public Affairs team.

Officially announced by President George W. Bush on Jan. 14, 2004, the Vision for Space Exploration has since become the nation’s Vision thanks to bipartisan support in Congress through two budget cycles. Most recently, Congress passed a measure authorizing NASA’s continued work on the Vision.

The congressional action aligns with a recent Gallup poll in which 77 percent of Americans surveyed said they supported the tenants of the Vision so long as NASA’s budget does not exceed 1 percent of the federal budget.

NASA’s share of the federal budget currently is about .7 percent, or seven-tenths of a penny from every tax dollar.

“The Coalition strongly believes that the successful implementation of the Vision will be dependent on NASA receiving full and adequate funding for all aspects of the plan,” Carr said. “We are hopeful that the FY 2007 budget plan will fully support this vital national initiative.”

About the Coalition

The Coalition for Space Exploration is a diverse group of companies, nonprofit organizations, trade associations and unions dedicated to supporting the nation’s Vision for Space Exploration, which will ensure America remains a leader in space, science and technology – key factors that create jobs, promote the nation’s economy, contribute to our national security, and gratify humanity’s need to explore. For more information please visit the Coalition For Space Exploration Web site.