Calif. lawmakers push NASA to reconsider Mars mission funding cuts

Cuts in funding would have an impact on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, resulting in hundreds of jobs lost in California.

California lawmakers are pushing NASA to reverse funding cuts for the Mars Sample Return mission. 

If the cuts go through, they would result in hundreds of jobs lost in the Golden State. 


The big picture: A bipartisan group of legislators, led by California Senator Alex Padilla and Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Burbank), wrote a letter to NASA opposing the recent unilateral decision to cut funding to the Mars Sample Return mission before Congress finalized its Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process. 

  • “This short-sighted and misguided decision by NASA will cost hundreds of jobs and a decade of lost science, and it flies in the face of Congressional authority,” the letter reads. 
  • Senator Laphonza Butler and Representatives Judy Chu (D–Pasadena), Mike Garcia (R–Santa Clarita) and Young Kim (R–Anaheim Hills) also signed the letter. 
  • The Mars Sample Return mission is a proposal to collect rock and dust samples on Mars and return them to Earth. 
  • The Jet Propulsion Laboratory currently has a launch window scheduled for 2030. 

What they’re saying: In the letter, the lawmakers said they are mystified by NASA’s rash decision to cut funding. 

  • “NASA’s deeply short-sighted and misguided decision to unilaterally adjust the funding allocation granted to JPL to carry out the MSR mission violates Congress’s appropriations authority,” the letter reads. 
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