When Congress sent the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 to the President for signature, it contained a congressional mandate that directed the Administrator of NASA to establish a program that would develop a sustained human presence on the Moon to promote exploration, science, commerce, and United States preeminence in space.

This week, NASA announced their ambitious lunar architecture plans: the establishment of a permanent human outpost on the moon by initiating seven-day crewed missions to a pole of the Moon no later than 2020; to build up power supplies, living quarters and transportation capabilities; and then eventually lengthening human stays on the Moon to as long as 6 months by the year 2024. The development of the lunar architecture will serve as a stepping stone to future exploration of Mars and other destinations.

The time has come to explore beyond low-Earth orbit, and embark on a sustainable journey into space that can best achieve NASA's exploration goals. The Constellation Program will provide a new crew vehicle, the Orion, and new launch vehicles, the Ares I and V, to take us to the moon, Mars, and beyond. While a select few will experience "living on the moon," all Americans, and the people of the world, will benefit from this expedition.

This is an exciting time for NASA and our country as we embark on this new journey so integral to the American psyche: the desire to go farther and push the limits of our capabilities in the pursuit of knowledge.

I commend Administrator Griffin for his outstanding leadership and vision. I look forward to furthering our reaches into the universe and providing NASA with the Rules and Tools they will need to be successful in the Second Space Age.