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Perlmutter Continues Work to Establish Space Resources Institute
Washington, D.C., July 27, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the Space Resources Institute Act to direct NASA to study establishing an educational institution to support research on space resources and to help maintain the United States’ preeminence in space. At the conclusion of the study, NASA must submit to Congress a report on its findings.
In the past decade there has been growing interest in In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), or the practice of using materials found or manufactured on other astronomical objects (i.e. the Moon, asteroids, Mars) to replace materials that otherwise would have been brought from Earth. The Artemis Program to the Moon and Mars will be supported by the extraction of materials in space, and improved understanding of ISRU could lead to safer and more affordable human spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars. While NASA, academic institutions, and commercial industry have worked to advance research into this field, there is no central hub to support the development of foundational science and technology for effectively using space resources. The goal of the bill is to have NASA evaluate creating such a hub at an academic institution and explore ways to improve research and develop new technology for space resources.
“Space exploration fuels American innovation and Americans’ desire to explore the universe,” said Perlmutter. “The study of space resources is one of the many exciting frontiers ahead for deep space exploration and ensuring coordinated research and technology development in this field will play an important role in Colorado’s aerospace economy and future space missions, including getting our astronauts to the Moon and onto Mars.”
The Space Resources Institute Act has received support from academia, including from the Colorado School of Mines and Colorado Space Grant Consortium. It is cosponsored by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO-05).
“As NASA solidifies its plans to return to the Moon and then go on to Mars, the utilization of Space Resources will play a critical enabling role,” said Dr. George Sowers, Professor of Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines. “Furthermore, bringing the resources of space within the economic sphere of Earth will spur the next great economic revolution for humankind. The creation of a Space Resources Institute within NASA ensures that the United States will maintain leadership in this critically important field.”
“Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce that will energize our country’s growing space economy, and humanity’s continuing exploration of our solar system,” said Chris Koehler, Director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. “This bill will help us to provide students with hands-on opportunities to expand their skills in designing and operating the next generation of scientific instruments and to nurture their passion for space.
The bill was previously included as an amendment to the NASA Authorization Act of 2020.