President Trump tells NASA to aim for Mars
Friday, March 24, 2017
On Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill authorizing US$19.5 billion in funding for the 2018 fiscal year to go to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and specifically naming the exploration of Mars as one of the agency’s goals. According to Senator Ted Cruz, NASA has not been the recipient of this kind of authorization bill for seven years.
“NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth,” President Trump said in a statement. “I’m delighted to sign this bill. […] reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology.” The bill was also sponsored by former 2016 presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz who joined astronauts and other notables in the Oval Office for the signing.
A budget of US$19.1 billion is proposed for the following year, which would be a slight decrease from the current year, but overall, President Trump’s plans for the U.S. annual budget have been controversial. In what presidential advisor Steve Bannon calls “deconstruction of the administrative state,” there have been large cuts to — amongst other things — the Environmental Protection Agency and rural job training programs such as the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The NASA Transition Authorization Act also allocates funds for commercial space flight, the International Space Station and other related projects. The goal of landing humans on Mars is set for the 2030s. NASA already has a multi-step plan to accomplish this, including testing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket and manipulating asteroids.