"Thursday's letter from Chairman Wolf to President Obama was a timely and warranted call for U.S. leadership in space, at a time when other countries are forging ahead with plans and new systems to explore beyond Earth orbit.
Indeed, policy decisions made in the next few years will determine whether the international space and science community supports a U.S.-led space exploration program for the next several decades or if they align with others. The Coalition for Space Exploration encourages the proposal to hold a conference early in the new year to develop a mission-oriented plan for a U.S.-led exploration program to send humans to Mars using the SLS and Orion systems, augmented by other systems and technologies contributed by our international partners.
NASA has already been set on a course to develop the capabilities that would be needed to explore Mars with humans - the logical progression from ongoing robotic missions. The Space Launch System and Orion vehicle are the only such systems under development in the world, today, with such unique capabilities. And through the International Space Station program, our international partnerships are currently strong.
The concepts are under serious study by NASA. What is missing is the decision to proceed by our national leaders. It's time to forge and lead the international alliance that will explore deep space on behalf of all of us on the Earth...and a clear mission."