President Donald Trump signed into law Tuesday a bill authorizing funding for NASA which also makes human exploration of Mars a priority.
Known as the NASA Transition Authorization Act, the new law provides $19.5 billion in funding for fiscal year 2018 and tasks the space agency with planning a manned mission to the red planet in the 2030s.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2017
“I’m delighted to sign this bill,” Trump said. “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.”
As noted by the Houston Chronicle, the measure is “the first major NASA policy bill in seven years,” which Trump also heralded for its job-creating ability.
“With this legislation, we support NASA’s scientists, engineers and astronauts and their pursuit of discovery,” Trump added. “This bill will make sure that NASA’s most important and effective programs are sustained.”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who in 1986 orbited the earth for 6 days while aboard the space shuttle Columbia, attended the signing and emphatically expressed agreement with a Mars mission.
“It puts us on the dual track,” Nelson said. “We have the commercial companies going to and from the International Space Station and we have NASA going out and exploring the heavens. And we’re going to Mars.”
Numerous sponsors of the bill, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), likewise joined the president for the signing.
A preliminary budget released last week had proposed only allotting $19.1 billion to NASA, $200 million less than the current budget of $19.3 billion. The Trump administration reversed the decision, instead opting to increase funding for the space agency.