President Donald Trump signed the first NASA authorization bill in seven years on Tuesday, which sets a new goal of sending American astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.
The NASA Transition Authorization Act, sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., funds the space agency to the tune of $19.5 billion in fiscal year 2018 and specifically calls on NASA to create a plan for a “crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s.”
From Western Journalism
The goal is very reminiscent of President John Kennedy’s call in 1961 for the United States to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
Today, we’re taking the initial steps toward a bold and bright new future for American spaceflight,” Trump said Tuesday in the Oval Office.
Trump affirmed the government will continue to support the growth of private sector presence in space.
The act will “continue transitioning activities to the commercial sector where we have seen great progress,” he said.
Private space companies will be utilized to shuttle American astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station, while NASA will carry out the mission of deep space exploration.
The last manned space launch conducted by NASA was in July 2011, when the Space Shuttle Atlantis made its final flight.
There were many light moments during the bill sign ceremony, including when Cruz joked that Trump might want to send Congress to space.
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