President Donald Trump has signed a law authorizing $19.5 billion to fund NASA. The law approves funding for the next fiscal year starting this October. It establishes the crewed missions to Mars as NASA’s main goal for the next decades.

The bill was introduced in Congress by Sen. Ted Cruz and authorizes provisions to NASA for exploration, space operations, science, aeronautics, space technology, education, safety, security, mission services, construction and environmental compliance and restoration. Unlike other organizations like the National Institutes of Health, which budget would be reduced by $6 billion, NASA is not suffering the same budget cuts.

An artist’s impression of Mars surface. Photo credit: NASA.

“It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of NASA, human space exploration, space science, and technology,” Vice President Michael Pence said, according to The Washington Post.

The race to Mars

The law states as a long-term goal for NASA the expansion of human presence beyond space, including the development of a human exploration mission to Mars, prioritizing technologies best suited for this mission.

NASA will test Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket before going to Mars. Also, they plan to visit the Boulder and use this mission to test the tools needed for going to Mars.

NASA astronaut
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins. Image credit: NASA.

“The United States had set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth,” said former president Barack Obama last October, according to Breitbart.

NASA will now provide medical monitoring and diagnosis for all former astronauts. However, they will not provide medical diagnosis or treatment for any psychological or medical condition that is not associated with the space flight.

Vice President Pence said that with this bill, they are recovering the National Space Council figure, which works as a go-between for NASA and the White House. The National Space Council was eliminated after George H.W. Bush government. He also said that he would be leading this council.

Source: United States Congress