The bipartisan funding bill puts a timetable for sending people to the Red Planet
Today’s Congress - regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall on, most people would like to send this body of elected officials far away into the reaches of outer space. Congress, it turns out, has a similar idea but one that actually aims to rekindle some of greatest galactic ideals.
In a move that may surprise skeptics, Congress appears to be formally moving forward with a major new funding bill for NASA that includes language about sending a team of humans to Mars in that not too distant future.
Maybe most shocking of all, an announcement of support came from none other than Ted Cruz, who said in a statement:
“We have seen in the past the importance of stability and predictability in NASA and space exploration – that whenever one has a change in administration, we have seen the chaos that can be caused by the cancellation of major programs. The impact in terms of jobs lost, the impact in terms of money wasted has been significant.”
NASA had requests a $19 billion budget for 2017, one that was mirrored by the White House. The Republican-controlled House approved that budget and it just passed its first major hurdle in the Senate, passing through a Republican-led committee. The bill’s specific language sets a 25-year-goal for sending a manned mission to the Red Planet.
The bill still has to be approved by the full Senate and then signed into law by President Obama but it appears the major obstacles to approving NASA’s long-gestating plans for a manned mission to Mars just took a major step forward toward becoming a reality.
All of the spacey good feelings were echoed by Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, who said:
“Fifty-five years after President Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon, the Senate is challenging NASA to put humans on Mars. The priorities that we’ve laid out for NASA in this bill mark the beginning of a new era of American spaceflight.”