It’s Official: We’re Going to Mars
It looks like Republican and Democratic senators alike are keen on safeguarding America’s space programs. With the potential chaos of a new president on the horizon, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed a bipartisan bill giving NASA $19.5 billion to continue working on a mission to Mars. It also includes support for the continuation of the program to send astronauts on private rockets to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil no later than 2018.
The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016 includes an overall authorization level of $19.508 billion for fiscal year 2017, but it still needs to be passed by the Senate as a whole, of course. The budget allotted is the same as what was approved by House appropriators and a bit more than the version released by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Obama administration, likewise, proposed $19 billion in funding for NASA.
The Senate is not giving NASA money just for the sake of exploration. It is also a challenge, a mandate, actually. The bill requires that NASA make it an official goal to send crewed missions to Mars in the next 25 years.
The bill allocates funds for different components: $4.5 billion on exploration, nearly $5 billion for space operations, and $5.4 billion for science. It also does not scrap NASA’s controversial plans to send men on asteroids and collect samples by 2021. It does, however, require the space agency to regularly send progress reports to Congress, justifying its $1.4 billion cost.
WHAT DOES THE BILL SAY?
The Senate passed a bipartisan bill that authorizes a new $19.5 billion budget for Nasa to send a crew to the red planet, but mandates it must happen within the next 25 years.
This bill also blocks the incoming US president from up heaving the nation’s space program.
This bill also marks the first time a trip to Mars has been mandated by law.
Money will be delegated by the legislation for different components of the mission to Mars, such as $4.5 billion for exploration.
The bill also provides a range of vital space programs the agency is set to carry out, such as continued development of the new Space Launch System launchers and the Orion Earth-orbit-and-beyond spacecraft.