Outgoing chair of the House appropriations subcommittee Rep, Frank Wolf, R-VA took the occasion of the Chinese Chang’e 3 mission to the moon to send a letter to President Obama dated December 19, 2013. In it he urged the president to abandon the planned asteroid mission and to return NASA’s and America’s space exploration focus back to the moon.
In the letter he urged the president to hold a White House conference, gathering all the best minds from the United States and her allies to devise a program to return to the moon, using the Orion space craft and the heavy life Space Launch System, within the next decade. Such a program would see the United States lead a coalition of international partners and commercial space companies to launch a series of lunar expeditions of increasing duration and complexity in the 2020s, leading to an expedition to Mars in the 2030s.
When President Obama abruptly cancelled the Constellation program in 2010 and referred to the idea of return to the moon with contempt and derision in a now infamous Kennedy Space Center speech, he angered many in Congress on both sides of the aisle. Since then the National Research Council issued a report suggesting a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the president’s preferred alternative, an expedition to an asteroid, and implied strongly that a return to the moon should be the next major goal for the space agency.