(Washington, DC) Today, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Ranking Member Brian Babin (R-TX) sent a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson urging NASA not to retreat from its mission of planetary exploration. 

The letter comes on the heels of the first images sent back by China’s Mars rover, marking another milestone in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) pursuit of leadership in space.

At the same time, NASA has announced delays in its execution of the Planetary Science New Frontiers Program, which is our primary means of exploring our solar system through missions like New Horizon’s mission to Pluto, Juno’s mission to Jupiter, the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid return, and the future Dragonfly mission to Saturn’s moon Titan. Instead of prioritizing exploration, NASA is increasing its focus on Earth Science and environmental observations. 

“China’s accomplishment and the Biden Administration’s retreat from planetary science exploration present a stark contrast today,” Lucas and Babin wrote. “With the significant increase proposed for Earth Science, and the significant decrease from the previous proposed budget request for NASA, we are concerned that a significant reprioritization within NASA will undermine planetary science exploration. Delays and cuts to planetary science exploration could have particularly dire impacts on U.S. leadership in space as China seeks to expand its planetary science program, pursue international partnerships to expand its influence, and justify the Communist Party’s control over the Chinese people through scientific accomplishments.”

The full letter is available here.