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Debate To Highlight Candidates' Views On Space Exploration

Sen. McCain will send Apollo VII astronaut Walt Cunningham and Sen. Obama will send former NASA Associate Administrator Lori Garver to speak at the Mars Society debate.
Senators John McCain and Barack Obama will send representatives to a space policy debate this week.

The presidential candidates' representatives will meet Thursday to discuss how their administrations will fund, prioritize, and advance space policy over the next several years.

"This will be a perfect opportunity for the campaigns to articulate their policies," Mars Society Executive Director Chris Carberry said in an announcement. "The next president will be in a unique position to move the space program forward. Space policy could also be key in the election; many of the 'space states' are too close to call in recent polls."

McCain will send Apollo VII astronaut Walt Cunningham and Obama will send former NASA Associate Administrator Lori Garver to speak on the candidates' behalf.

The Mars Society will host the debate at the University Memorial Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Attendance is free and the event is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserved seating is available for groups.

The debate will take place during the 11th Annual International Mars Society Convention, which begins Thursday and ends Aug. 17. During the convention, industry leaders will review the latest developments from the Phoenix Mars Lander and recent data from the Cassini-Huygens mission orbiting Saturn.

Other topics of discussion will include the intersection of faith and the origins of the universe. Speakers will include: Ted Peters, director of the Institute of Theology and Ethics; Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory; and Diocesan Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America and founding member of The Mars Society, Rev. James Heiser.

"Several leading scientists and experts in an amazing number of disciplines will be on hand to discuss a myriad of pertinent topics," Carberry said. "With all of the new discoveries on Mars over the past few months, coupled with the upcoming presidential election and shaping of prospective space policies, this event is perfectly timed."