Even not immune to . The agency said it was cutting 530 jobs at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California amid budget uncertainty. This is eight percent of the enterprise’s workforce. JPL is also laying off about 40 contractors, weeks after a hiring freeze . Today, employees are informed about their fate.
“After taking all other measures to accommodate the lower budget from NASA, and due to the lack of appropriations from Congress for FY24, we had to make the difficult decision to reduce the JPL workforce through layoffs,” NASA said in a statement. noted by . “The impacts will occur in both technical and support areas of the Laboratory. These are painful but necessary adjustments that will allow us to meet our budget allocations while continuing our important work for NASA and our country.”
Uncertainty over the final budget that Congress will allocate to NASA for 2024 has played a major factor in the cuts. The agency is expected to receive about $300 million (MSR), an ambitious mission planned by NASA and return the land. In its 2024 budget proposal, NASA requested just under $950 million for the project.
“While we still do not have final say on our FY24 appropriations or our Mars Sample Return (MSR) budget allocation from Congress, we must now take additional significant steps to reduce our costs,” said JPL Director Laurie Leshin. he wrote in a memo. “In the absence of payment, and as long as we need to take this action, we must move now to avoid even deeper cuts if we have to wait until later.”
NASA has not yet released a full cost estimate for the MSR, although an independent report estimates the price at between $8 billion and $11 billion. In its proposed 2024 budget, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee directed NASA to submit a year-by-year funding plan for the MSR. The subcommittee warned that the mission could be canceled if the agency did not do so.
Although MSR has been successful so far. The Perseverance rover dug up some soil samples and if NASA could return them to Earth, it would warrant closer analysis. The samples could help scientists learn more about Mars, such as whether life exists on the planet.