WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that adds exploration of Mars as a NASA goal.
The new law also authorizes $19.5 billion in space agency funding for the 2017 budget year, which began Oct. 1. Trump recently sent Congress a budget proposal that authorizes $19.1 billion for the space agency next year.
The measure amends current law to add human exploration of Mars as one of NASA’s objectives. It also directs NASA to manage human space flight programs to help humans explore Mars and other destinations.
Trump signed the bill Tuesday in the Oval Office surrounded by astronauts and bill sponsors, including Alabama’s Congressional delegation.
“We would like to thank President Trump for his support of the agency in signing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017,” said NASA acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “We also want to express our gratitude to a bipartisan Congress for its thoughtful consideration of the agency’s path forward. We are grateful for the longstanding support and trust of the American people, which enables our nation’s space, aeronautics, science, and technology development programs to thrive. Our workforce has proven time and again that it can meet any challenge, and the continuing support for NASA ensures our nation’s space program will remain the world’s leader in pioneering new frontiers in exploration, innovation, and scientific achievement.”
Congressman Mo Brooks is vice chairman of the House Space Subcommittee and was present for the bill’s signing.
“As the Congressman from Alabama’s Fifth District, representing the Marshall Space Flight Center, I was honored to be invited to the White House for President Trump’s signing of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017,” said Brooks. “This legislation gives NASA the long-term purpose and stability NASA needs to accomplish its robust missions, including the Space Launch System and Orion Spacecraft. In signing this legislation, President Trump demonstrated his strong support for NASA and reaffirmed America’s commitment to human spaceflight and the journey to Mars. These programs play into the strengths of the Marshall Space Flight Center and focus on areas in which Marshall has excelled for more than half a century.”