President Trump signed a bill on Tuesday authorizing $19.5 billion in funding for NASA. This news comes as a shock to many who expected to see funding slashed like numerous other science and medical agencies under the President’s budget proposal. Under the new bill, NASA’s long-term goal will remain the same: send a human to Mars by 2030.
In preparation for this groundbreaking event NASA will continue working on the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion Crew Capsule for that mission. And while NASA’s budget may stay untouched for now, the Earth Science division could still see a 5% cut. This cut indicates that Trump believes NASA should be investing their time and resources into deep space exploration, not life here on Earth.
At the signing the President was quoted as saying, “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.” He went on to clarify that, “We support jobs. It’s about jobs.”
In addition to securing NASA’s plans to send a man to Mars, the bill also addresses a number of other issues pertinent to the agency. One such issue included in the bill is the TREAT Astronauts Act which mandates that NASA will pay for monitoring, diagnosing and treating of all health problems related to space travel of all former astronauts. NASA had previously monitored the astronauts but were restricted from any sort of treatment. This will prove useful as NASA continues to research health effects of space travel as they prepare for their future Mars endeavor.
And just in case you were curious, the President made it clear that he has no interest in traveling to space himself at any point. Senator Ted Cruz also made it known that he would not be venturing into space anytime soon either. However, they both were intrigued by the notion of sending all of Congress to space. “We could,” Trump said. “What a great idea that could be.”
What do you think, should NASA continue to focus primarily on deep space exploration? Is the TREAT Astronauts Act a good use of funding? And most importantly, should we send ALL of Congress on a one-way trip to space?