What do you do when the candidate who won the election was the one whose budget cut your favorite program? In the case of The Planetary Society, the answer is to congratulate him—and ask him to reverse those cuts. In a statement Thursday, the organization congratulated President Obama on his reelection Tuesday while asking him to restore funding for NASA’s planetary science program in the forthcoming 2014 budget proposal.
“As our economy continues to rebound, we call on President Obama to invest in our future by making a commitment to increase NASA’s capacity to pursue groundbreaking robotic and human space missions over the next four years,” the society’s statement reads. “The first step along this path would be to restore NASA’s Planetary Science funding to $1.5 billion in the upcoming 2014 budget.” That restored funding, the organization said, could be used to support Mars sample return mission planning, as well as for another flagship-class mission, to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Such work, it added, would also “create high-tech, high-skilled jobs across the country.”
The Planetary Society has been an outspoken opponent of the administration’s proposed 20-percent cut in planetary science funding, from $1.5 to $1.2 billion in the 2013 budget proposal, including its “Save Our Science” (SOS) initiative. The House and Senate have partially restored that funding in their versions of appropriations bills that include NASA, but a final spending bill awaits negotiations in the coming weeks on far larger issues on federal spending in an effort to avoid the automatic spending cuts of sequestration that would take effect in January.