NASA sets out an inspiring, affordable path  for future exploration

Press Release From: National Space Society
Posted: Monday, September 19, 2005


WASHINGTON, DC:  The National Space Society hails the formal announcement of NASA's Exploration System architecture, setting out the agency's exploration plans for the next two decades.

"We are going back to the Moon and on to Mars with a plan that the nation can afford," said George T. Whitesides, Executive Director of NSS.

Under the plan, the first new moon landing will take place in 2018, with startup of a lunar outpost in 2022.  Ultimately, NASA envisions crews stationed at the outpost for up to several months.  Exploration of Mars could and should follow the establishment of the lunar outpost.

"The Exploration Architecture is a strategic starting point which will evolve as the engineering, organizational, and political challenges are addressed," said Gary Barnhard, Chairman of the NSS Executive Committee.  "NSS looks forward to working with NASA and the many other organizations, companies, and agencies whose collaborative efforts will take this journey forward."

The new architecture plans for the establishment of an infrastructure for space exploration, built around the core of the Crew Exploration Vehicle, with plans for In-Situ Resource Utilization and a set of common modular connectors between all vehicles.  It also enables human exploration of the lunar poles for the first time, where reserves of frozen water may be located.

"This new plan is the real start of settlement of our solar system," said Whitesides. "It also opens the exciting possibility that the US will put the first woman on the Moon in 2018, a milestone which would underscore the motivational importance of this plan to our nation's youth."

The new strategy is budgeted to fit within NASA's current plans for exploration funding.  It will take advantage of the potential cost-savings of commercial innovation and entrepreneurial activity.   With explicit plans for entrepreneurs, the architecture sets NASA's policy to prefer commercial services for launch of crew and cargo to the International Space Station, if private companies can affordably meet NASA requirements.  The society believes that this new direction for NASA is critical to the ultimate success of the Vision and must be maintained.

"Administrator Griffin has stated that NASA is baselining commercial service to ISS in the out years of this plan, with the preference to keep NASA at the far frontier," said Whitesides.  "We believe that this direction is the right approach and will maximize the resources of our nation." 

NSS strongly supports the new architecture and will soon begin a new campaign of public education and advocacy to build support among the American public.

About the National Space Society

The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen's voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society also publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. For more information about NSS, how to join or donate, or the annual International Space Development Conference, visit:

George T. Whitesides
Executive Director
phone: 202 429 1600

Jeremy Pyle
Vice President of Public Affairs
phone: (415) 713-6272

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