With the eventual goal of placing a man on the Red Planet, President Trump signed a bill funding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Tuesday in an Oval Office ceremony.
“For almost six decades, NASA’s work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on earth. I’m delighted to sign this bill. It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology,” Trump was reported to have said as he signed the bill.
The White House signing of the NASA Transition Authorization Act will provide $19.5 billion for the agency and includes language setting the ambitious goal of sending a “crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s.”
Surrounded by astronauts and members of Congress, Trump signed the funding bill and acknowledged the difficulty of being an astronaut, saying he was not sure if he was up to the job himself.
Following his quip, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) remarked, “You could send Congress to space.”
The bill signed Tuesday also includes funding for the International Space Station through 2024 and outlines cooperation between NASA and private firms to cooperate in space exploration.
Although unrelated to the legislation, Vice President Mike Pence announced Mr. Trump’s decision to revive the National Space Council, which will oversee U.S. space policy and which he will lead.
Approximately half the size of Earth and the fourth planet from the sun, Mars lies 154 million miles from earth. Mars is often referred to as the Red Planet because it appears an orange-red hue when viewed through a telescope.
Should a manned mission take place, experts estimate it would require 162 days, or 3,888 hours, to reach the planet.
[The Hill] [AP] [Photo courtesy National Geographic]