Lamar Smith: Rampant Space Rocks Highlight Need for Space Funding

The chairman of the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee said the meteor explosion over Siberia and an asteroid's close brush with Earth today are reminders to invest in space technology.

“Today’s events are a stark reminder of the need to invest in space science. Asteroid 2012 DA14 passed just 17,000 miles from Earth, less than the distance of a round trip from New York to Sydney. And this morning, a much smaller meteorite hit near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, destroying buildings and injuring hundreds," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

“Developing technology and research that enable us to track objects like Asteroid 2012 DA14 is critical to our future. We should continue to invest in systems that identify threatening asteroids and develop contingencies, if needed, to change the course of an asteroid headed toward Earth."

Smith, former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, took over the gavel of the Science Committee this Congress from 89-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas).

“Fifty years ago, we would have had no way of seeing an asteroid like this coming. Now, thanks to the discoveries NASA has made in its short history, we have known about 2012 DA14 for about a year. As the world leader in space exploration, America has made great progress for mankind," Smith continued. "But our work is not done. We should continue to study, research, and explore space to better understand our universe and better protect our planet.”

The chairman announced a hearing in the coming weeks to examine ways to better identify and address asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth.