May 25, 2011

New Space Program Essential to Resolve Crisis on the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s Moon Speech

The Coalition To Save Manned Space Exploration
Contact: Art Harman
New Space Program Essential to Resolve Crisis on the 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s Moon Speech
The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration called today for NASA to launch a new space program following the legacy of JFK.
May 25 is the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's challenge to go to the Moon “in this decade." Yet on this historic anniversary our nation’s space program is in crisis and faces a future only of spending great sums of money on missions which will never launch. The space shuttles are being retired prematurely and without replacement, and the Constellation rockets to take us to the Moon, Mars and beyond were cancelled.
In an announcement by Art Harman, Director of the Coalition, he stated; “A bold and vibrant space program is essential to rebuilding America’s economy, restoring our lead in high technology and investments, and in creating—not losing—highly skilled jobs. This must become a national priority; today we are retreating; surrendering the field to other nations eager to reap the rewards from Lunar and Mars missions. It is time to return to the ‘can-do’ spirit by which President Kennedy launched America to not just the Moon, but to economic prosperity, national pride and world respect.”
“Let us again set JFK’s challenge to go “in this decade” to the Moon and to an asteroid, and with experience gained, launch a human Mars mission by or about 2025. I urge the President and Congress to launch a bold new space program to achieve these goals,” Harman continued.
“In building anew a space program worthy of JFK’s legacy, there are three essential elements it must have to succeed:
  1. It must be bold and exciting to capture the imagination and support of Americans.  
  2. It must have a specific timetable, just as did JFK’s historic challenge.
  3. It must offer near-term exciting and valuable "payoffs"—that is, space missions to lift the hearts of Americans. Nobody will put up with billions in expenses for a mission they may not live to see or which may never happen. Students will not choose engineering for a career which will not exist for a decade.”
Harman described a general outline and timeline for a JFK-like space program--what we could do if we just decided to do follow in JFK's footsteps:
  • “Build a true heavy lift rocket for delivery by 2016-2017. This must be of sufficient payload capacity for actual human Lunar and Martian missions. 
  • Set the goal to return to the Moon by 2017.  
  • Establish a continuously occupied base on the Moon by perhaps 2018 in order to develop and test habitats and technologies for a Mars mission; this is where we will learn how to live on Mars, yet is three days to home if needed.
  • Go to an asteroid "in this decade" to gain more deep space experience. 
  • Set a target to launch a manned Mars mission by 2025 or as soon as safe and technically feasible. 
  • Begin immediately to develop advanced propulsion system to make Mars merely weeks away, such as Ad Astra's VASIMR or other nuclear and ion type propulsion systems.”
Harman read a quote from JFK’s historic speech: “...The facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.” (JFK quote from his speech to Congress on May 25, 1961)

Harman then commented that “JFK’s words today ring true as to what’s wrong in our space program today—and he offers us the solution to fix it. It is time to repeat JFK’s recipe for success and specify our “long-range goals on an urgent time schedule,” that is, to return to the Moon and go to an asteroid "in this decade" and to go to Mars as soon beyond as is safe and practical; and to “manage our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.”

Mr. Art Harman is the Director of the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration, and is available for interviews or commentary. He has worked in the public policy arena for three decades in the Nation's Capital, and is a powerful advocate for launching a bold, JFK-like space program. The goal of the Coalition is to help rebuild public interest in the space program to result in greater support by Congress and the Administration.

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