Schiff Helps Secure Funds for Important Jet Propulsion Laboratory Programs

Official Seal of the US House of Representatives

Thursday, June 12, 2008 Contact: Sean Oblack (202) 225-4176

Schiff Helps Secure Funds for Important Jet Propulsion Laboratory Programs

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff announced that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies passed a bill that included funding for three important programs managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena.  Rep. Schiff, a member of the subcommittee, helped secure funding for the Mars Exploration Program, exoplanet research, and the Outer Planets program.

“The space program represents the best of our nation’s ingenuity, perseverance and intelligence,” Schiff said.  “In addition to expanding our understanding of the cosmos, the space program is responsible for many of the technological advancements we benefit from every day.  It is essential that America continue to lead the exploration of the Universe if we as a nation want to keep our competitive edge in the global economy.”

Schiff worked hard to ensure robust funding of the Mars work at JPL.  The bill included $463.17 million to continue the Mars Exploration Program, an increase of over $75 million above the President’s budget request, requested by Rep. Schiff.  The Mars Program is the centerpiece of NASA’s exploration of our planetary neighbors.  The funding included in this bill will help enable JPL to continue its program of launching a mission to the Red Planet every 26 months.  The resources in this measure will also fund the Mars Science Laboratory that is due to launch in 2009, as well as future missions.  Importantly, it will also continue to fund the probes already at work on or around the Red Planet, including the rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity,” which are still exploring Mars more than four and a half years after landing there.

The bill contains $78.1 million for exoplanet research to be used by JPL and NASA as they seek to reconfigure the SIM mission for a proposed 2010 start.  This figure represents a $30 million increase over the President’s budget and this increase was also requested by Schiff.  The new mission is expected to use many of the technologies currently being developed for SIM, but at a much lower cost. The objective of the mission is to determine more accurately the positions and distances of stars throughout the galaxy and probe nearby stars for Earth-sized planets. 

Lastly, Schiff successfully sought $101.1 million for NASA’s Outer Planets Program, an increase of over $90 million from last year’s funding.  This money will be used to begin the initial concept development of a new mission to the outer planets.