Today after several debates, the Congress of the United States has sent the bill that authorizes the new budget for NASA, which has been set at 19.508 million dollars annually. This amount remains almost intact compared to what was estimated in December last year within the Senate, but the changes come in how you should use that money, which is where they are keys to what will be NASA now under the administration By Donald Trump.
The new NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 carries a very important mandate: bringing humanity to Mars in the 2030s. Something that is certainly of great relevance, were it not because this means the closing of other projects and missions, most related to the exploration of our planet Earth.
Goodbye Earth, hello Mars
This law, which was passed unanimously and is now in the White House to be signed and authorized by the president, focuses almost exclusively on space travel and scientific research of objects in the galaxy. That is, many of the Earth-centered scientific programs have been canceled or postponed indefinitely.
To give a couple of examples, the asteroid redirection mission, where it was sought to capture one close to the Earth for its exploration and investigation, has been suspended; And the same has happened with the study and monitoring of anthropogenic climate change, another project that has remained in limbo.
Among the new goals that have been set for NASA, we find the impetus to the Orion and SLS programs, which must send an unmanned mission during 2018. But the most important thing has been the emphasis that is being given to The programs centered on Mars, where Congress is setting the year 2033 as the deadline for NASA to bring humans to the red planet.
"Humans should be near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s." Therefore, NASA must submit a "human exploration plan" before December 1, 2017. In this plan must be broken down the objectives step by step to reach Mars, a roadmap that explains each mission, its objective, the delivery of results, and how it will help us reach this planet.
Fortunately NASA had already presented the steps planned for the future colonization of Mars, which are centered on three main missions : Earth Reliant (from now until mid-2020), Proving Ground (2018-2030), and Earth Independent (From now to 2030s and beyond).
NASA's new targets also focus on innovation within supersonic aircraft and travel capabilities, as well as establishing human presence beyond Earth's low orbit. On the other hand, this also means that the missions planned for the Moon have been postponed until 2020, when it will be determined if we really need to go to our satellite again.