Don’t count the members of the space advocacy group the Space Frontier Foundation fans of either the Democratic or Republican parties’ positions on space. Last week they issued a press release critical of the Republican platform’s space language, suggesting it was as odds with broader party ideology. “NASA seems to be one Big Government program many Republicans love,” the Foundation’s statement reads, saying that while the platform in general is critical of federal government programs, it has “nothing but hackneyed praise for NASA, and doesn’t even mention the increasing role of the private sector.” And, in a statement earlier this week, the Foundation criticized the lack of language about space in the Democratic platform: “At least the platform committee didn’t waste any words. But when it comes to actual substance, they earned the same failing grade as the Republicans.”
While the Space Frontier Foundation was criticizing either the lack of space language or its big-government focus, planetary scientists have been focused on a more tactical objective: winning additional funding for NASA’s planetary science program, which the administration sought to cut by 20 percent in its FY2013 budget request. “Right now the problem is the Administration in the form of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP),” said the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society in a statement this week. “While Congress can give planetary exploration extra money on a year-by-year basis, the OMB five-year planning budget can hamstring NASA’s execution of any Congressionally-enhanced planetary program. We need to engage OMB and OSTP and push for the inclusion of five-year budget planning levels up to or above the FY12 level of $1.5B.”
DPS is urging its members to send physical letters (not emails) to key officials in OMB and OSTP urging them to increase NASA’s planetary funding as they work on the proposed FY2014 budgets, offering sample letters and contact information for those officials. DPS is coordinating this effort with The Planetary Society (which has its own “action alert” with a September 10 deadline) and the Planetary Science Section of the American Geophysical Union.