Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after the National Research Council (NRC) released a report titled “Pathways to Exploration – Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration.” The report was requested by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010.
Chairman Smith: “The Obama administration has failed to present a coherent plan to develop the capabilities and technologies required to support a human mission to Mars. The NRC report reiterates that NASA must identify the stepping stone missions that will be necessary to demonstrate these capabilities. The bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2014, passed out of Committee last month, explicitly calls on NASA to develop an exploration roadmap. But Congress is still waiting to hear how NASA will select these destinations.
“The NRC report also calls into question the Obama administration’s continued focus on the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), highlighting ‘an underlying concern that ARM would divert U.S. resources and attention’ from other potential missions. This is a mission without a realistic budget, without a destination and without a certain launch date. The Committee has heard a number of concerns about ARM, as well as promising alternatives such as a flyby mission to Mars and Venus in 2021. Congress should provide NASA with guidance and funding priorities that reflect our current budget reality while allowing them to develop an inspirational human spaceflight mission.”