Congress wants to know if NASA can really get to Mars

Members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology repeatedly questioned the feasibility of NASA’s strategy to get to the Red Planet by the 2030s at a special hearing today. Representatives cited financial concerns and some even suggested that NASA’s efforts should be redirected towards cleaning up space debris and protecting Earth from possible asteroid impacts.

The chief concern was cost, since the entire mission could require over a trillion dollars. Much of the money will be spent to develop new technologies — like a system to protect astronauts from space radiation — that are needed to ensure deep-space travel is even possible. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and others said that the money might be better spent for other space projects, like cleaning up the space debris surrounding Earth, and creating a system to protect our planet in case of a potential asteroid impact. “There are a lot of things we could be doing in space,” Rohrabacher said. “I hope that we make sure that we don’t waste dollars on things that we don’t accomplish anything with.”