America is rightly thrilled by the recent
success of the Curiosity landing. Yet even as the administration is taking a bow
for this great achievement, they are moving to kill the program that created
The figures speak for themselves. This year’s NASA Mars exploration budget is $587 million. The administration is proposing to cut that to $360.8 million in fiscal year 2013, $227.7 million in 2014 and $188.7 million in 2015, a level that would effectively put the nation out of the Mars exploration business.
These cuts need to be reversed. NASA’s budget is the responsibility of
Congress. If America is to continue to
be a nation of explorers and pioneers, the people’s representatives must take
this matter in hand.
The Mars Society is
therefore calling upon all of its chapters and members, as well as the general public to arrange
meetings with their senators and representatives within driving range of their
locale, to explain to them the situation and call upon them to act.
Our demand is simple and justifiable:
That NASA’s robotic Mars exploration program should be placed on a solid
financial footing of no less than three
percent of the space agency’s overall budget.
Here are some of the primary talking points that should be conveyed:
Mars Society members and others acting alone can always convey these points in letters to their representatives, senators and to the White House. However, in-person meetings with members of Congress or their staff is the most effective way to get the message across.
Mars Society chapters should designate members to contact each local congressional or senatorial office and request meetings. Now that Congress has recessedfor the fall campaign, representatives and senators will be frequently in their districts. If you are persistent and polite, you will generally be able to obtain a meeting with a congressman and at least a staff member to a senator.
If you cannot arrange a sit-down meeting, look at the congressman’s or senator’s posted campaign schedule and seek opportunities where they present themselves at public events where it might be possible to obtain a few words with them on the side. Frequently, brief encounters at such events can lead to invitations to meet at greater length afterwards.
Remember, be polite and friendly. You are not there to picket, but to persuade. Mars exploration is an issue where very few
politicians have a previous commitment to a hostile position, so they have
every reason to give us what we want if you can present it in a clear and
Whenever a meeting with a government
representative takes place, one of the participating chapter members should
take notes and later provide our national office with a summary of the meeting.
Updates will be provided to all
participating chapters as the campaign moves forward. Also questions regarding the campaign can be
directed to our national office.
With the upcoming election making
public sentiment a matter of concern to the political class, and the success of
Curiosity making clear the absurdity
of quitting Mars exploration, now is the time to strike.
Three percent for Mars. Three
percent for the future.
This is a battle we can and must win! Let’s roll!