Texas Congressman John Culberson is something of a space geek. For over two decades, he’s been eager to send spacecraft to Jupiter. Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, is one of the few celestial bodies that we know to be covered by deep oceans, meaning that it there is a good possibility that it harbors life.
In a fascinating story in Time, Jeffrey Kluger describes how Culberson tried to create legislation that would give NASA the budget to go to Jupiter, but because of a loophole, that budget was redirected elsewhere when money got tight. So years later, he’s crafted some airtight legislation that essentially mandates NASA to get to the planet by 2022.
Of course, whether NASA has the technology to make this happen is another question entirely. But this is an interesting case study in how you make major progress in spaceflight happen: It’s all about the fine print.