Heidi Hammel is a planetary astronomer who has given short speeches and interviews about space exploration (among other things). Hammel has explored Neptune and Uranus extensively. She received a Ph.D from the University of Hawaii, and earned her undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Back in 2002, Hammel received the Carl Sagan Medal, given to people who have broadened public understanding of planetary science.
Hammel believes that there are many benefits to space exploration, and thinks that politics and economics are the only things that will motivate the American government to launch another space program. Hammel acknowledges that space exploration is expensive, but thinks tax dollars would be better spent on planetary exploration than war or national defense.