A bill has passed almost unanimously through Congress to send astronauts to Mars by 2033. In order to go ahead, it just needs to be signed by President Trump. In his inaugural address, Trump committed to “unlock the mysteries of space” and has already expressed wishes to send man back to the moon by 2020, then to Mars after. The Daily Caller reports:
If Trump signs the bill, $19.5 billion would fund deep space human exploration. Much of the money would go towards a manned mission to Mars. NASA plans to accelerate plans to put U.S. astronauts to lunar orbit in 2019 and send a crewed mission to Mars in 16 years.
The bill passed both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate with near-unanimous support. The entire program will not result in significant increases in the NASA budget, but will be paid for by cutting spending on earth sciences, global warming research and heliophysics.
This move is a reversal of former president Obama’s policies, which repeatedly redirected NASA funding away from space exploration toward earth sciences. Obama increased the space agency’s research into climate change by 63% with programs designed to measure global warming, at the expense of its space research.
Jeff Foust, a senior writer at the trade publication SpaceNews, revealed that, “a number of prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill think that NASA should not be involved to the degree that it is in Earth science.”
President Trump reportedly met with technology developer Elon Musk to talk about the possibility of sending humans to Mars. Vice President Mike Pence has also expressed interest by meeting with Apollo 11 astronaut and Mars mission advocate Buzz Aldrin discuss the future of the U.S. space program.