The mission of Citizens for Space Exploration is to promote awareness of the benefits of America's Human Space Exploration Program and support for NASA.
Citizens is a multi-state organization comprised of U.S. taxpayers who support America's investment in human space exploration. We are private citizens, small business owners, students, teachers, space and non-space business representatives, and county and municipal officials.
Citizens (formerly known as National Keep It Sold) was formed in 1992 through the efforts of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (TX), the Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (FL), the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce (AL), and the Partners for Stennis (MS and LA). In 2005, Citizens formed an alliance partnership with the Coalition for Space Exploration, and in 2014, a partnership with the Colorado Citizens for Space Exploration began, as well.
Representatives from Citizens for Space Exploration travel to Washington, D.C., annually to meet with members and staff to discuss the benefits of human space exploration. These benefits include:
- Improving the overall quality of life for our citizens and the world in areas such as medical research and healthcare.
- Advancing America's scientific, technological, security and economic interests.
- Inspiring a new generation of explorers to pursue technical careers based on science, math, computers and engineering.
- Promoting U.S. leadership and competitiveness while providing opportunities for international cooperation.
Annual Washington, D.C., Trip
Much has changed in Congress over the past 25 years, but each May legislators on Capitol Hill can count on at least one constant – the annual visit by the Citizens for Space Exploration. From May 24-26, 2016, 89 travelers conducted a record 407 congressional visits to advance support for human space exploration and to demonstrate the existence of a large, grassroots constituency for space exploration.
The diverse group of travelers included elected officials, 38 university students majoring in engineering or related technical fields of study, industry representatives and community leaders. They broke into teams consisting of a leader and two or three other travelers including at least one student. Key messages included support for NASA’s human space exploration portfolio and NASA’s role in supporting American leadership, education, innovation, health care, and quality of life, all for less than half of one percent of the federal budget. Talking points also included concern about Russia and the increasing importance of a well-funded NASA in uncertain geopolitical times.
Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership is home to the CSE-Texas delegation. BAHEP President Bob Mitchell stressed the importance of the 407 congressional visits that were scheduled in advance of the trip. He stated, "We don’t just drop off a folder of information. Each team sits down and talks with either the senator or representative or members of his or her staff. We educate, discuss our concerns and then answer any questions that they have. This one-on-one approach has proven to be very effective over the past 25 years.”
Based on their congressional meetings, the teams provided valuable feedback which included:
- Strong bipartisan support for NASA. There was more understanding of NASA’s space exploration programs than in previous years.
- Recognition of the benefits resulting from the space program including areas of STEM education, work force development and general contributions to local economies across the country.
- Response to our platform of ISS, Orion, SLS, and Commercial Crew/Cargo was very positive.
- Continued interest in NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo efforts in low earth orbit and the associated companies.
- Generally agreed that Mars was the ultimate destination for human exploration; did not state a definitive preference for lunar vs. asteroid mission options for accomplishing this long-term objective.
- The budget is always a challenge.
- NASA and industry will have to continuously make the case for the value of spaceflight.
- Recognition of the importance of Space Launch System and Orion to support deep-space exploration.
- Many staffers asked to be contacted when a specific vote or action was needed.
The Citizens for Space Exploration hosted a Congressional Reception for members of Congress and their staff on Wednesday, May 20th. Eight members attended, and approximately 50 staff from both congressional offices and committees attended. Congressional attendees were:
- Mo Brooks (R-AL-5)
- Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18)
- Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4)
- Mike Coffman (R-CO-6)
Several travelers were instrumental to the success of this year’s trip to Washington. They included Jimmy Spence, BAHEP aerospace marketing manager, and C.A. Shields, BAHEP specialty chemical marketing manager, trip coordinators; Brian Freedman, manager, State and Local Government Operations, The Boeing Company in Houston, and trip chairman; and Joe Mayer from Florida, director of Government Relations with Lockheed Martin and chairman of CSE National.
There were also many local elected officials who served on the teams and assisted in making members of Congress aware of the strong support this nation has for human space exploration and the impact it makes on our lives.