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Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

Maryland Delegation Urges NASA to Protect Two Missions Vital to the State

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Apr 27, 2017
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Maryland Congressional Delegation today urged the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to protect two missions vital to Maryland’s leadership in earth and space science.

In a letter to Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the lawmakers warned that cutting or eliminating the Restore-L satellite servicing mission and the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission – as proposed in President Trump’s budget – would have harmful impacts on Maryland jobs and reduce the ability to understand and monitor critical environmental issues such as climate change. The letter was signed by Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, John Delaney, Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin.

“Both missions support between 400 – 800 high-skill, high-paying jobs that would be adversely affected by these changes – scientists and engineers who drive innovation and discovery, and contribute to their communities and the entire state of Maryland,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe restructuring and consolidation of the Restore-L mission will lead to irreversible capability reductions. Eliminating the PACE mission would jeopardize NASA’s ability to monitor some of our most critical environmental issues, such as harmful algal bloom and atmospheric quality predictions and respond appropriately. As budget talks proceed, we ask that you vigorously support and advocate on behalf of the Restore-L and PACE programs to keep NASA on the cutting edge of technology and exploration.”

Full text of the letter is below.

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Dear Administrator Lightfoot:

We write to express our grave concerns with proposed funding reductions to NASA’s Restore-L satellite servicing mission and the proposed elimination of the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission. Both missions support between 400 – 800 high-skill, high-paying jobs that would be adversely affected by these changes – scientists and engineers who drive innovation and discovery, and contribute to their communities and the entire state of Maryland. NASA’s robotic spacecraft servicing technologies and satellite observations are also critical to our understanding of Earth and exploration of our solar system. We urge you to advocate for the essential role that these programs play in the NASA mission.

Restore-L will help establish a technology testbed for rendezvous, proximity operations, docking, inspection, refueling and relocation of satellites – even for existing satellites not designed to be serviced on-orbit. These cost-saving capabilities could lengthen the lifespan of satellites, providing new methods for operators to manage their satellites more effectively. Such demonstrations and operations are also fundamental to future NASA platforms and missions, including human exploration of Mars, the Moon, and asteroids. NASA, particularly the Goddard Spaceflight Center (GSFC), located in Greenbelt, Maryland, has extensive experience operating in satellite servicing, and Restore-L will continue that work.

Similarly, GFSC has had a lasting legacy at the forefront of Earth Science research. The PACE mission will build upon this important history by providing observations of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere that have direct consequences for our lives. Using PACE’s data, NASA can answer critical questions about changing climate conditions on the overall health of Earth’s oceans, how ecosystems respond to changes in the environment and their relationship with airborne particles and clouds. Applications for policymakers and private industry include monitoring fisheries and water resources, detecting potential natural disasters and protecting our communities against poor water and air quality.

We believe restructuring and consolidation of the Restore-L mission will lead to irreversible capability reductions. Eliminating the PACE mission would jeopardize NASA’s ability to monitor some of our most critical environmental issues, such as harmful algal bloom and atmospheric quality predictions, and respond appropriately. As budget talks proceed, we ask that you vigorously support and advocate on behalf of the Restore-L and PACE programs to keep NASA on the cutting edge of technology and exploration.

Sincerely,
 

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