NASA Bill Stresses Mars Missions, Leaves Earth Science Intact

If President Donald Trump signs the bill, NASA's budget for the next year will increase to $19.5 billion.

The bill, NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (S.442), was approved on March in the House of Representatives by a voice vote with no members against it, weeks after the legislation passed the Senate unanimously on February 17.

For the first time in six years, Congress passed a NASA authorization bill that involves numerous human exploration programs, including a long-term goal of sending individuals to Mars by 2033, Space News first reported.

The American Astronomical Society has a convenient breakdown of the $19.508 billion in the bill, including funding for human space exploration, space station operations, science, and more. The bill makes the determination that the technological and scientific goals of the Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission have not been demonstrated, and requires a report on alternatives to demonstrate the technologies needed for a human mission to Mars.

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NASA will also be provided with funding to study Jupiter's moon, Europa, which is thought to have water, and could be able to sustain life for long periods of time.

An illustration of the Space Launch System taking off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The 146-page bill is jam packed with mandates for the space agency to position the United States as "a thriving space economy in the 21st century".

The bill's passage was welcomed by the space industry.

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The projected mission of 2018 has sent NASA into a minimal cold-war with Space X, and it has a willingness to launch its manned flight before 2018, which needs many preparations, includes the readiness of the astronauts and also the spacecraft.

Business Insider did not immediately receive a response from Trump administration officials about the president's plans for the new bill. NASA also wants to examine the long-term health of former astronauts who have returned from previous missions to space. This was thought to have put pressure on NASA to consider making EM-1 a crewed mission, but, at least from Congress's perspective, there is no support for making that change right now. Recently, the White House proposed defunding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and Trump had been poised to defund NASA's Earth Science division.

But despite its backing some representatives have raised an eyebrow at the bill's exclusion of earth science programs.

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