08:08 AM

USRA Members Urge the U.S. Government to Focus on Key University Issues in the NASA Reauthorization

In a resolution passed during the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) annual meeting (March 28, 2008) the association's 102 member universities unanimously called for specific measures to address a number of key issues critical to the academic community and to the future of space science and aeronautics in the U.S. The measures called for in this resolution are listed below.

  1. Reauthorizing NASA as the leader of the U.S. civil space program and significantly increasing NASA funding. This increased funding will enable the agency to carry out a balanced space program that includes advancing the scientific and technical disciplines related to space and aeronautics and carrying out the enterprise of space exploration itself. An acknowledgment of NASA's support of universities as partners that generate new knowledge, make new discoveries in disciplines related to space and aeronautics, and train the specialized workforce needed to accomplish NASA's missions should be included in the reauthorization.
  2. Devoting at least 1% of NASA's total budget to funding competitive opportunities for university missions on sounding rockets, high altitude balloons, remotely piloted vehicles, emerging commercial suborbital flights, and university class space flight missions. These missions will provide hands-on training and will counter a decades long decline in the number of small space missions.

USRA members also called for a fundamental research exclusion to the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations. This exclusion would be extended to U.S. aerospace firms, Federal laboratories, and non-profit organizations interacting with universities in pursuit of fundamental space research and on university space experiment hardware. This exclusion will counter the negative effects of ITAR regulations on research programs at U.S. universities.

The resolution in its entirety may be viewed here .

The Universities Space Research Association, established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, is a private, nonprofit consortium of 102 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy across the breadth of space science, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.