07.12.07

Schiff Helps Secures Funds for Important Jet Propulsion Laboratory Programs

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff announced that the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill which included funding for three important programs being managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Rep. Schiff is a member of the subcommittee charged with drafting the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill, which included funding for the SIM PlanetQuest, the Mars Exploration Program, 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 everyday.  It is essential that America continues to lead the exploration of the universe if we as a nation want to keep our competitive edge in the global economy.”

The bill contains $71.6 million for the development phase of the SIM program, which will determine more accurately the positions and distances of stars throughout the galaxy and probe nearby stars for Earth-sized planets.  To accomplish this, SIM will use optical interferometry technology to develop telescopes powerful enough to take images of Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars to determine whether these planets can sustain life. Schiff fought hard to maximize SIM funding above the President’s request, and the $72 million amount is $50 million more than expected.

Schiff also worked hard to ensure robust funding of the Mars work at JPL, and the bill included $625.7 million to continue the Mars Exploration Program.  The Mars program is the centerpiece of NASA’s exploration of our planetary neighbors.  The funding included in this bill will enable JPL to continue its program of launching a mission to the red planet every 26 months.  The Mars Phoenix Lander, which is to be launched in August, is the next step in our search for evidence that Mars once had conditions that would have supported life.  The resources in this measure will fund this mission, the Mars Science Laboratory that is due to launch in 2009, as well as future missions.  Importantly, it will also continue to fund the work of the rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity,” which are still exploring Mars more than three and a half years after landing there.

Lastly, Schiff successfully sought $10 million for NASA’s Outer Planets Program.  This funding will be used to begin the initial concept development of a new mission to the outer planets.