President Donald Trump has given more than he promised to space agency NASA. On Tuesday, March 21, he signed an advisory bill and authorized funding of $19.5 billion to NASA.
Initially, President Trump had proposed funding of $19.1 billion, but for reasons best known to him, he upped the amount by $400 million.
This is the first of its kind authorization bill that has been given to NASA in the last seven years. There are not many major changes in the bill and it reflects more or less the same clauses, which Trump laid out last week.
"With this legislation, we support NASA's scientists, engineers, astronauts and their pursuit of discoveries," said President Trump during the signing.
He further added that this bill will ensure that NASA's most significant and effective projects continue without any hiccups. It will also support the Commercial Crew Program, which is being aimed at taking American astronauts to space.
The bill also authorizes space operations, science, space technology, exploration, education, construction — including compliance and restoration — and the NASA Office of Inspector General. It also gives the green signal for safety, security, and mission services.
Human Exploration Of Mars
NASA won't be bearing the brunt of budget cuts like Earth science and medical agencies. Transporting humans to Mars by 2030s remains the major goal for NASA. To make significant headway in the Mars mission, the Congress will continue to support and fund the Space Launch System rocket, as well as the Orion crew spacecraft.
"The key U.S. objectives for human expansion into space shall include achieving human exploration of Mars and beyond through the prioritization of those technologies and capabilities best suited for such a mission in accordance with the stepping stone approach to exploration specified in federal law," states the bill.
The latest bill also includes the TREAT Astronauts Act, which directs NASA to pay for the diagnosis and treatment of any health problems of astronauts, as well as their monitoring. Previously, NASA could only monitor and diagnose health problems in astronauts after they had completed their time at the space agency.
It was not authorized to treat any problems found in the astronaut's health diagnosis. All it could do was to refer them to primary healthcare to counter the issues. However, with the implementation of the NASA bill, it will be liable to take care of the astronauts' treatment.
Relaunch Of National Space Council, End Of Asteroid Mission
President Trump, with this bill, has also decided to start the National Space Council once again. Vice President Mike Pence affirmed that he would chair the council. For the unfamiliar, the National Space Council was an advisory body, which served as a bridge between the White House and NASA and Pence believes that the advisory body can help address many issues and problems across multiple federal agencies.
Even though the bill wants the agency to focus on the Mars mission in 2033, the Congress still wants NASA to find an alternative to the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). ARM was supposed to transports humans to the lunar orbit and would have acted as a stepping stone for the Mars mission.