Wolf Asks Obama to Hold White House Conference in 2014 on Return to Moon
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) may be retiring, but that's not till the end of next year. Until then, he clearly plans to remain passionately involved in both civil and national security space policy as evidenced by two letters he sent today. The one addressed to President Obama calls on the President to hold a White House conference early in 2014 to develop an international plan to return humans to the Moon within the next 10 years.
In his letter to Obama, Wolf references China's landing of a rover on the Moon over the weekend as an indication of China's growing influence in space. He wants the President to hold a conference at the White House early next year "to bring together the best minds from around the country and among our international partners to develop a mission concept for a U.S.-led return to the Moon within the next ten years, using the SLS and Orion systems and identifying areas for our international partners and private industry to contribute."
He tells the President that "decisions made in the final years of your administration determine whether the international community aligns behind a U.S.-led space exploration program for the next several decades or if they decide to partner with others." After calling the Obama Administration's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) "misguided," he goes on to say that "However well-intentioned the asteroid mission proposal may be, I urge you to reconsider [it] in light of the strong support for a lunar mission." He cites last year's National Research Council report chaired by Al Carnesale as finding that the asteroid mission is not supported by our international partners, the American people, or the NASA workforce.
"Joining with other partners, we have the capabilities and without question we possess the talent" to return humans to the Moon, he asserts, ending with a hand written note at the bottom of the letter that reads "This is a sincere good faith request which I know would be good for the country. Thank you."
A ministerial-level meeting is, in fact, scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 2014 where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from more than 30 countries are expected to make statements about future space cooperation. The International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF) will be followed the next day by a "Heads of Agency" meeting sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) with the heads of the world's major space agencies. Wolf's letter does not mention either meeting.
The letter he sent to Clapper, co-written with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, also cites the Chinese lunar rover, as well as other Chinese space accomplishments, as signs that America could lose its leadership position in space. They then ask five questions about the implications of China's space achievements on a variety of national security issues.
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