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Feb 04, 2016 10:02 AM EST

Congress Presses NASA Over Mars Mission, Alternate Plan to Visit Asteroid

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The United States Congress was highly critical of an apparent lack of a focused agenda for how NASA plans to get astronauts to Mars.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology was particularly wary of how much more the Journey to Mars' estimated costs would be compared to what the federal government gives NASA in its budget, according to The Verge.

Additionally, Congressional Republicans were disappointed that NASA presented a manned mission to an asteroid as an alternative to the Journey to Mars, USA Today reported. Instead, Rep. Bill Posey, whose Fla. district includes the Kennedy Space Center, indicated the party would like to see NASA establish a base on the moon to the end of using it to launch toward Mars.

"Virtually every witness we've ever had come before this committee has said we need to have a lunar base as part of the stepping stone," he said. "The only ones we haven't yet got that through (to) is NASA."

The space agency is currently prepping for the "State of NASA" event Feb. 9, which will include an update on the Journey to Mars and a speech from its administrator, Charles Bolden.

Congress is split by party lines over NASA, as Democrats are more accepting of the asteroid mission and more willing to be open-handed for the Mars mission, USA Today noted.

"Such (presidential) transitions have in the past led to significant redirections in NASA's human exploration program," Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, said at Wednesday's hearing. "If that were to happen again, that would be a tragedy, and a wasteful one at that."

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