NASA is a key component of our nation's pursuit in the areas of science, space and technology. The benefits of that investment permeate nearly every aspect of our lives. Congress must continue to sustain a consistent, incremental investment in NASA. With the reductions to the NASA budget in the FY07 Joint Resolution, it is vital that Congress return to the path it blazed when passing the NASA Authorization Act and fund the Moon-Mars Initiative at a level consistent with preventing Orion and Ares from being delayed to 2015, widening the gap of U.S. human access to space once the Shuttle is retired in 2010.

NASA's long-term vision for space exploration comprises a balance of robotic and human exploration programs and it is playing a key role in inspiring the next generation of America's scientists and engineers from every state across the country. Such inspiration is a huge tangible benefit from which we will maintain globally America's competitive position.

The Vision for Space Exploration is building a steady surge of enthusiasm within a new generation of scientists, engineers and explorers and has begun to feed the pipeline of talent this nation so desperately needs. Consistency in Congressional funding of NASA is vital if we expect NASA to achieve its goals over the next several decades.

We are about to embark on a return to the Moon, starting with robotic missions beginning next year with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and returning astronauts to the surface of the Moon by 2020. On the Moon, we will learn the skills needed to live and work productively on another world, paving the way for our endless journey into the Solar System.