August 8, 2023
Attention NSS Political Action Network Members:
Please act TODAY to help save one of the best NASA space missions of this century and its team – New Horizons, the Pluto flyby and Kuiper Belt exploration mission.
New Horizons was launched in 2006 at a cost today of $920 million. In 2015, it was the first spacecraft to explore the Pluto system and in 2019 became the first to fly by a Kuiper Belt object, the most distant object ever explored. New Horizons is supported by the John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and lead by Dr. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute. The spacecraft has seven fully operational scientific instruments supported by a team of 50 part-time scientists, engineers, mission control staff and project managers (about 20 full-time equivalents). It will be transiting the Kuiper Belt through 2028, entering interstellar space in the 2030s and is expected to operate until 2050.
However, with budget constraints, NASA has decided to cut funding for New Horizons and its Kuiper Belt exploration starting October 1, 2024 (the beginning of FY 2025). Funding for this spacecraft may be restored at some point after fiscal year 2025, but as a helio-physics mission. However, the Kuiper Belt mission would be ended prematurely, before the spacecraft leaves the belt. NASA also intends to recompete the New Horizon’s mission team in early September, replacing a highly successful team with a 17-year track record with a less experienced helio-physics team to save money.
Because of the short timeline, we ask that you call or write your Congressperson to express your support for the existing New Horizon’s team and the continuation of its important Kuiper Belt exploration. You must call or email before late August to make a difference.
You can easily find your Representative using this link:
You can easily find your Senator using this link:
Please write a letter or email and tell them you believe:
- They should ask Senate Committee Chair on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and House Committee Chair on Science, Space, and Technology Frank Lucas (R-3-Oklahoma) to write the NASA administrator to request that New Horizons not be canceled, converted to only doing helio-physics, nor the current team replaced.
- If you are in the state/district of one of these Committee Chairs, please ask them to contact the NASA administrator.
Other points you might make include:
- NASA needs to continue funding the scientific work New Horizons is doing in the Kuiper Belt which is critically important for our better understanding of our solar system.
- That New Horizons is already challenging previously held views as to the nature and distribution of resources in deep space, resources that may prove important for future space development and settlement.
- The New Horizons’ team can complete its study of the Kuiper Belt in a few years and at a very economical cost given the large expenditures are already behind it.
Please be polite, respectful, and brief when you write.
With your help, we can save New Horizons and allow its team to continue the trailblazing work it is doing, but only if you act TODAY. Thank you for your dedication and advocacy.
NSS Executive Vice President
Artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI).