Sinema Urges NASA to Prioritize Arizona Space Missions in Senate Hearing

May 22, 2023

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Senator’s remarks and questions
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Senator’s remarks and questions

Senator underscored Arizona’s leadership on innovative approaches to space research and exploration

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Chair of the Space and Science Subcommittee, highlighted Arizona’s national leadership in space research and exploration while leading a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Bill Nelson.
“Arizona leads the nation in innovation – and as we launch our country to new heights of space research and exploration, I’m working to build rewarding career opportunities and ensure the highest levels of safety, efficiency, and success” said Sinema, Chair of the Space and Science Subcommittee.
Sinema spoke to Arizona’s long-standing leadership in planetary defense, including the state’s role in addressing the threat of destructive near-earth objects (NEOs) – the Catalina Sky Survey and SPACEWATCH at Kitt Peak have detected more than half of all identified NEOs. Earlier this year, the Senator met with Administrator Nelson and secured a commitment to prioritize funding in the NASA budget for the NEO Surveyor Mission based at the University of Arizona. NEO Surveyor, a key part of NASA’s Planetary Defense work, will allow NASA to meet the Congressional mandate to detect and identify 90% of potentially hazardous large asteroids.
The Senator also questioned Nelson about implementing her bipartisan Chips and Science law – legislation providing more than $52 billion to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing amidst a global semiconductor shortage, reducing reliance on foreign countries like China and enhancing the United States’ global competitiveness. 
Sinema was instrumental in ensuring the bipartisan Chips and Science law reauthorized NASA. Specifically, Sinema incorporated provisions she wrote as a leader on the Space and Science subcommittee directing NASA to fund key science research at Arizona universities, maintain the International Space Station, and send the first woman and person of color to the moon.
Sinema recently reintroduced the ORBITS Act – legislation improving national security, enhancing planetary defense, supporting communications reliability, and protecting American astronauts by directing NASA to publish a list of space debris that poses a risk.