Letter to President Trump: Bill Nye, Planetary Society Sets Agenda; Trump Administration Reaffirms Space Exploration Commitment with modifications

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Bill Nye, science commentator and CEO of the Planetary Society, spoke on behalf of the organization in a video to the President regarding the need to continue space exploration. The Planetary Society is a nonpartisan and nonprofit league of international astronomers, scientists, and the general public who advocate for and inspire future generations to foster scientific knowledge through support of astronomical missions.

The video was published on YouTube on March 14, 2017. As of March 27th, at 11 am ET there were approximately 612, 176 views. The open letter was a shorthand to the fourteen-page document produced by the Planetary Society. In this video, Bill Nye lays out key goals of the organization, based on collaborations with NASA, the National Academy of Sciences, the NASA Advisory Council, the Planetary Society’s Humans Orbiting Mars Report, and Congressional directives. The next article of this series will address the state of affairs regarding the NASA space program.

The effort is to seek to influence and define the new Administration’s space policy. On Saturday, in President Trump’s Weekly Address, he said, “Almost half a century ago, our brave astronauts first planted the American flag on the moon. That was a big moment in our history.  Now this nation is ready to be the first in space once again. Today we’re taking the initial steps toward a bold and brave new future for American space flight.”

Amidst highly patriotic music, President Trump speaks of the new plan he signed into law entitled, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Transition Authorization Act of 2017. Evoking our history, he speaks of the wonder and majesty of the human desire for space exploration. The act has faced criticism from some scientists and Elon Musk.

There are a few major changes to the bill. For instance, all mention of “earth sciences” has been gutted, along with sections that indicated collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which deals with the study of the Earth’s atmosphere and the ramifications of climate change.  This purpose was to redirect the focus on NASA onto the planetary sciences and to place less of an emphasis on climate change.

However, the lack of collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is largely a political one. Senators Ted Cruz (R- TX) authored the bill, whilst Representative Lamar Smith (R- TX) argued that the purpose is to ensure that “NASA was not burdened with funding other agency missions”

Space Entrepreneur and baron Elon Musk was disappointed with the bill. He turned to Twitter to voice his disapproval:


His disapproval of the lack of funding for Mars missions follows in suit with the concerns discussed by Bill Nye.

The bill has not gone through its Budget Appropriation Process yet, and once it is done so the set budget for NASA will be determined. At that time, the Highland Chronicle will bring you more information on the progress.

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Letter to President Trump: Bill Nye, Planetary Society Sets Agenda; Trump Administration Reaffirms Space Exploration Commitment with modifications