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Sen. Peters Leads Colleagues in Calling for Funding to Support First Mars Missions

Press Release From: United States Senate
Posted: Friday, April 8, 2016

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) led a bipartisan group of 16 Senators to call for strong funding for NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. The Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket are the cornerstone programs of NASA’s ongoing human space exploration efforts.

“Exploring deep space is vital to inspiring our future innovators and stimulating our economy through technological innovation and development,” wrote the Senators in the letter. “These unparalleled space exploration systems will enable humans to travel farther into the solar system than ever before, spawn new scientific advancements, and result in unprecedented scientific discoveries about our universe.”

The Orion spacecraft and SLS are currently being built and tested in preparation for a 2018 launch to test the capabilities needed for human deep-space exploration. The first human-crewed mission for SLS and Orion is planned for 2021. Thousands of manufacturers and suppliers from across the country are building the components for the Orion systems, driving American innovation and supporting economic growth.

The letter was also signed by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), David Vitter (R-LA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).


The full text of the letter is copied below.

April 8, 2016

The Honorable Richard C. Shelby
Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice Science, and Related Agencies
131 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice  Science, and Related Agencies 
156 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Mikulski:

Exploring deep space is vital to inspiring our future innovators and stimulating our economy through technological innovation and development. NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) are building the capability needed to extend human existence throughout deep space. These unparalleled space exploration systems will enable humans to travel farther into the solar system than ever before, spawn new scientific advancements, and result in unprecedented scientific discoveries about our universe.

NASA’s space exploration journey continues, building upon the success of Orion’s first flight test that launched from Florida in December 2014. Orion, the SLS rocket, and launch operation systems are already being built, tested, and integrated for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) that will launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 2018. EM-1 will be the first integrated flight test of the new SLS that will propel Orion to the far side of the moon on a three-week mission to test out deep-space mission capabilities needed to send humans farther into the solar system than ever before. NASA intends to follow this mission with a crewed deep space exploration mission on SLS and Orion in 2021.

We believe Orion and SLS are the cornerstones of our nation’s human space exploration enterprise and a source of national pride. We also recognize the thousands of suppliers across 49 states who are building key components for this important new rocket and spacecraft, including those who travelled to Washington, DC from February 23-24 to advocate for the necessary levels of funding to ensure America remains the world’s leader in space exploration.

We respectfully urge your support for providing the appropriations necessary for keeping the first integrated Orion & SLS flight demonstration on track for launch in 2018, and the first crewed flight of Orion & SLS on track for a 2021 launch. The Appropriations Committee has repeatedly worked to ensure that these programs have sufficient funding, and we urge you to continue this commitment in the FY 2017 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill.

Sincerely,

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