The National Space Society
was disappointed to learn of President Clinton's recent line-item
vetoes of several small military space programs.
The Clementine 2 asteroid intercept
mission, as with Clementine 1, would have been the most
cost-effective approach to combining important technology
demonstrations with real scientific missions. Data on the
mechanical strength of asteroid Toutatis would have provided vital
input to the construction of weapons capable of deflecting
asteroids or comets on a collision course with Earth. The threat of
worldwide devastation from this kind of impact should very much be
a Department of Defense (DoD) concern.
The line-item veto also cancelled
funding for the military space plane. While the National Space
Society cannot address the merits of any missions for which the
space plane might have been used, we do recognize the ability of
the DoD's project to address a specific combination of needs
related to lowering the cost to access space. Even though NASA is
developing space plane-related technology, this combination --
global range, extremely fast response, very low cost per flight,
and small support and ops crews -- cannot be addressed by current
NASA, commercial technology or development programs.
The National Space Society encourages
the Congress, the Administration and the DoD to re-examine the
status of these vetoed programs, in particular Clementine 2, in
order to identify options to reinstate funding."