Daniels To Congress: Do You Want To Go To Mars Or Don't You?

Jun 25, 2014

Daniels had to look past some partisan in-fighting, but did find some support for a plan to increase NASA's budget and work with other nations to get humans to Mars.
Credit Wally Gobetz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/3664385777

Purdue President Mitch Daniels testified Wednesday before a Congressional committee that wanted to grill him about a report arguing for manned spaceflight to Mars.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology questioned Daniels and Cornell University professor Jonathan Lunine about a report from a committee the two men co-chaired looking at the future of American space exploration.

Daniels has tried to make the case that NASA needs to be funded differently than in the past – and consistently going forward – if any plan is to succeed. It’s a responsibility he laid squarely at the committee’s feet Wednesday.

“I just start with a very simple question: do you want to go to Mars or don’t you," Daniels says. "And if you want to go to Mars, whether we like it or not, certain things would have to be done very, very differently and in a very unnatural act for any democratically-elected government where people come and go and change, would have to be sustained over this extraordinary, probably uniquely, long timeframe.”

Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) echoed Daniels’ calls for more spending.

“If we’re really to commit to this goal, if the Congress is, this is not a about nickeling and diming other programmatic missions within NASA," Edwards says. "It’s really committing to it as a nation and then putting the dollars that match the goal and the opportunity.”

Committee members raised concerns about the report’s assertion the U.S. would have to work with other countries to get to Mars, with some congresspeople worrying about American intellectual property being stolen if the nation is to partner with other space-faring nations such as China and Russia.