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Bipartisan Congressional call to ensure Mars Sample Return a success
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Bipartisan Congressional call to ensure Mars Sample Return a success
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 26, 2024

A unified bipartisan effort led by Representatives Mike Garcia (CA-27), Judy Chu (CA-28), and Adam Schiff (CA-30) has emerged, with a strongly worded letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson demanding full funding for the Mars Sample Return Program. The letter, endorsed by an additional 20 Members of Congress from California, underscores the mission's critical importance and calls for a minimum allocation of $650 million to safeguard the mission's success and America's leadership in space exploration.

The Mars Sample Return Program, spearheaded by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), represents a major endeavor in aerospace engineering and space exploration. The program's successful completion is deemed essential for retaining JPL's vital workforce and reinforcing the United States' preeminent position in the race to Mars.

Highlighting the consensus among both houses of Congress, the letter to Nelson emphasizes the urgency of committing to a new mission architecture to ensure timely sample recovery. It warns of the consequences of inadequate funding, including potential mission delays, workforce reductions, and the jeopardization of America's leadership in solar system exploration.

The letter outlines the stakes involved, including the potential to compromise future human missions to Mars and the scientific community's ability to provide independent advice. With a clear directive, the legislators insist on a fiscal year 2024 operating plan that fully supports the Mars Sample Return mission with at least $650 million to prevent setbacks and uphold America's competitive edge in space exploration.

In a related advocacy effort, Representatives Salud Carbajal, Ted Lieu, and Zoe Lofgren led a bipartisan California delegation calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to prioritize investments in California's space economy. This initiative aims to secure California's leadership in the burgeoning space industry, emphasizing the need for state and federal collaboration to harness a generational opportunity for growth.

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