February 25, 2020

The Stakes for Space Exploration - NASA Authorization Bill

The stakes couldn't be higher for America's future in space as Congress debates the House of Representative's version of the NASA authorization bill, H.R. 5666.

Americans fully support a bold return to space exploration, and NASA is partnering with commercial partners to return to the moon by 2024--and build a permanent base using "in-situ resources" by 2028. Then, with lessons learned on the Moon, we will safely go to Mars by about 2033.

Regrettably, the House bill would push the return to the Moon to 2028--effectively ceding control of the most valuable region on the Moon to China, and losing, perhaps for another decade, the momentum and public enthusiasm that was sparked by setting 2024 as the exciting landing date.

Additionally, the bill would forbid NASA-commercial partnerships for lunar landers, eliminate plans to build a base on the Moon and prohibit developing "in-situ resource utilization," or mining water and minerals to 'live off the land' in a sustainable way.

Each of these prohibitions alone would delay the ability to conduct safe missions to Mars by a decade or more--to the 2040s or even 2050s, which would be a tragic loss of American leadership in space. Each effectively cedes the critical south pole region to China, where the water ice will support humanity for centuries, and cripples commercial space ventures.

China intends to be on the Moon in the mid-2020s, specifically to build a permanent base on the south pole, mine minerals and water, and deny access to all others, as in the South China Sea, where they violate the Law of the Sea Treaty every day.

Would China really claim the south lunar pole?

Consider this. The head of China's lunar program, Ye Peijian, compared the Moon and Mars to islands they are trying to illegally seize in the South and East China Seas in an ominous 2017 interview:
“The universe is like the ocean, the moon is like the Diaoyu Islands, and Mars is like Huangyan Island.”
The "Diaoyu Islands" are in fact Japan's sovereign Senkaku Islands.

"Huangyan Island" is in fact the Philippines’ sovereign Scarborough Shoal, which China seized and completely militarized in violation of the Law of the Sea Treaty.

China sometimes openly telegraphs its intentions to scare adversaries, and the "universe" quote is designed to scare nations to cede without effort the lunar south pole or more to Chinese control.

Indeed, if China expects us to believe they wouldn't seize the south pole, they are setting a poor example in the South China Sea. 

Yes, there is a space race with China--whether or not we join their race, and the stakes in this century are not just 'bragging rights' but control of the strategically-important south pole. By denying commercial enterprises and other countries from having access to the vital water-ice in south lunar pole craters, development of the moon will only be by China.

To recap, the House NASA Authorization bill would force a delay to returning to the Moon until 2028 or later, which would be after China lands their astronauts on the south pole--ceding control to Beijing.

What should Congress do? Already many Democratic and Republican members are hearing from all sectors of the space economy with the demand that they amend the bill to remove these dangerous prohibitions. A committee markup is planned for mid-March, which may address many of these concerns.

Failing to remove these restrictions, there might be no authorization bill for the year, or perhaps some compromise as late as December.

It is better to pass no authorization than to pass one that will cripple our return to the Moon and pathway to Mars, and cede the Moon to China.

Please share this, and call or email your members of Congress at 202-224-3121, asking that the House bill, H.R. 5666 be corrected--or defeated. www.House.gov www.Senate.gov 

February 18, 2020

How to Lobby Congress and Candidates for the Moon and Mars

Promoting the Space Program to Decision Makers:

In this election year, there’s two valuable actions you can take to build support in Congress and the White House for America’s future in space, including returning to the moon in 2024 and landing on Mars by 2033.


The first is to take advantage of the easy access to candidates and incumbents for Congress and President during the campaign season.

Ignore politics and let’s use this year to engage all the candidates to out-compete each other in their support for a bold space program.

Presidential candidates are travelling the country and speaking at events—some large and some small. The small events can be an excellent opportunity to actually talk to the candidates and their senior advisors.

At a huge event, you won’t meet the candidate or staff unless you know someone, but you can make them know you are there in a friendly and positive way. One way is to wear your pro-space shirts and caps. Maybe you’ll want to bring a sign or banner with “Moon by 2024” or Mars 2033!” on it, though many large events will have security rules forbidding banners and sign poles.

You can hold up signs on public property outside the campaign event with signs asking the candidate to support plans for the Moon and Mars. That may be photographed by the media.

Note that protesting in any way will just get you ousted and will result in the opposite effect from what you want.

For House and Senate campaigns, go to campaign events for both parties and you’ll have a good chance to talk to the incumbents and new candidates as well as their senior staff about your space priorities.

Call, email and message all presidential and congressional candidates in support of Moon 2024 and Mars 2033. Visit their local campaign headquarters and talk to their staff. Ask for the candidate’s statements and positions on the space program and commercial space. If they don’t have one, suggest they create a statement—or even offer to write one.

Every campaign has Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The candidate might not read it or personally send messages, but staff will certainly relay your message if it sounds useful and is constructive, or at least a summary of it if many people send similar messages. You can also retweet useful information to candidates.

Then get all your friends and contacts to do the same.

Everything seems political today, but space must not be so if we are to realize our dreams. Both Democratic and Republican presidents and Congresses have all inspired and funded our greatest space accomplishments, from JFK’s “we will go to the Moon in this decade” to building the space shuttles and the International Space Station, and now Artemis to the Moon and Mars.

Together we will reach the Moon and Mars. Together we will build colonies. Together we will build an interstellar spacecraft – and one day humanity will reach the stars. But not if we squabble and refuse to be part of this or that way of getting there, or refuse to support a plan from the “other party” because it’s not exactly your plan or you don’t want any particular person to get the credit.
Together, and only together can we reach the moon by 2024 and Mars in the 2030s.


Here’s a primer on how to meet or talk with your members of Congress and their top staff.

Why would you want to meet with your legislators? Perhaps to support specific legislation, goals or budgets. Or perhaps you want to judge or inspire their support for returning to the Moon and landing on Mars.
Here’s how to make your visits, calls and letters more effective, as well as the efforts of the advocacy organizations you support. What a Member or staffer is hoping or needs to hear from you might be very different from what you expect or think are vital points.

For example, early in the year is “appropriations season,” where you can request a greater budget for NASA than requested by the president, and you can present a letter in support of the same. That’s also the time to talk to the committee staff who write the NASA authorization bills about your priorities.  --CONTINUED --