Status Report

DPS Mailing #03-12: New Horizons Threatened

By SpaceRef Editor
July 28, 2003
Filed under , ,

DPS colleagues – please take note of this important message!


One of the major components for implementing the Decadal Survey
recommendations is in peril by Congressional budget cutters. Late last
week, the House VA-HUD- Independent Agency Appropriations Subcommittee
released budget language to cut $55M from the New Frontiers program.
Such a cut will seriously delay the launch and science return of the
first New Frontiers Mission: New Horizons Mission to Pluto and the
Kuiper Belt. Recall that the New Frontiers mission line, starting with
Kuiper Belt/Pluto was a top priority recommendation by the Decadal
Survey. Delays and inadequate funding of the New Frontiers line will
delay the launch and science return for New Horizons and increase the
overall cost. The net effect on the New Frontiers line is to delay
competition, selection and flight among other top priority missions
that include South Pole-Aitken Basin, Jupiter Polar Orbiter, Venus
In-Situ Explorer, Comet Surface Sample Return. New Frontiers was fully
funded in FY2003 and the President’s budget proposes full funding for
FY2004. It makes no sense to have a flight program undergo severe
swings from year to year.

Even though letters from the DPS Chair and The Planetary Society were
FAXed to key House members on Thursday (7/24), the House took quick
action on Friday (7/25) to pass the bill containing the cut to the New
Frontiers line. Unfortunately, this was the expected outcome. The
effective battle ground for restoring cuts to the NASA budget will be
in the Senate, with the first actions taking shape in the Senate
Appropriations Committee.

WHAT TO DO: It is vitally important NOW that we show Planetary Science
has a strong constituency – and the place to be heard is within the
offices of your Senators AND the Senate Appropriations Committee. YOU
ARE URGED TO FAX THIS WEEK a letter to your Senators and to members of
the Senate Appropriations Committee. A SAMPLE LETTER is given below.

Also note that the James Webb Space Telescope faces a similar $20M
cut. You may choose to additionally mention this in your letter.

CONTACT INFORMATION for your own Congressional representatives can be
found through the AAS website:

CONTACT INFORMATION for the Senate Committee on Appropriations can be
found at:

Thank you for your efforts, which are urgently needed if we are to keep
moving forward in turning the Decadal Survey recommendations into

Richard Binzel, Chair

on behalf of the Committee


Melissa McGrath, DPS Secretary-Treasurer

submissions to:

SpaceRef staff editor.