On September 25, the National Space Society delivered a letter (image below) to NASA Administrator Bridenstine congratulating him and his Science Mission Team for creating a robust budget line dedicated to planetary defense, one which includes full funding for the next development phase of the NEOCam (infrared telescope) Mission under the new name NEO Surveillance Mission (NEOSM). As the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recently determined, a space-based infrared telescope is the surest way to identify and characterize Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that can impact the Earth. To help ensure a launch date in the 2025 timeframe, we encouraged Administrator Bridenstine to retain as much of the Phase A NEOCam team as possible for this new phase.
Planetary defense has long been an area of concern for the National Space Society. From our February 2014 policy position paper, titled “Protecting Earth from Cosmic Impacts,” to our inclusion of planetary defense in our Capitol Hill Educational activities and direct advocacy for the NEOCam mission, we’ve long believed that NASA plays the crucial role in helping to protect our Earth from potentially hazardous NEOs. As Administrator Bridenstine has remarked, part of the reason that the dinosaurs are no longer around is they didn’t have the ability to deal with asteroid impacts, while human beings do.
We look forward to working with NASA in the coming months and years to ensure that Earth is protected from these celestial bodies, as we secure our future in space.