Volunteers are visiting Congressional offices today and tomorrow as part of the Space Exploration Alliance’s annual blitz in support of the space community.
SEA hopes to obtain more Congressional support and funding for a number of initiatives, including:
As justification for increased funding, SEA members were able to point out many recent success stories from NASA, such as the continued progress of the Mars rovers and this weekâ€™s International Space Station mission, which is installing the European Space Agencyâ€™s Columbus module.
Another promising NASA initiative highlighted was the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which is using performance-based contracts to help private companies in the U.S. develop the ability to send humans and cargo to the International Space Station, hopefully shrinking or closing the gap. SpaceX, the primary COTS participant to date, announced last Tuesday that it had completed its second major design review under the program.
Other issues discussed during the meetings included continued support for NASAâ€™s robotic science missions and the integral role that space exploration plays in solving Earthâ€™s pressing energy and environmental needs. Several Congressional offices explicitly requested more details about the National Security Space Officeâ€™s recent study of space-based solar power solutions, which noted that â€œ[a] single kilometer-wide band of geosynchronous earth orbit experiences enough solar flux in one year to nearly equal the amount of energy contained within all known recoverable conventional oil reserves on Earth today.â€
I’ll provide an update later this week on the alliance’s progress.