Congress Passes $19.5 Billion NASA Bill, Includes Humans to Mars & Europa Mission

Congress Passes $19.5 Billion NASA Bill, Includes Humans to Mars & Europa Mission

Congress has passed a new NASA bill, which authorizes $19.5 billion of spending in the fiscal year 2017. It includes things like manned missions to Mars and a Europa mission.

According to SpaceNews, this is the first time in nearly six and a half years that Congress has passed a NASA authorization bill. It was approved in the House of Representatives on March 7, with the same bill passing the Senate by unanimous consent on February 17. Now, it only needs to be signed into law by President Trump.

Some of the highlights from the bill include support for NASA’s journey to Mars. It states that the agency should work towards the “long-term goal of human missions near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s”. This refers to the idea that early missions to Mars could involve landing on its moon Phobos, before eventually heading to its surface.

As part of this journey to Mars, NASA had planned to move an asteroid into lunar orbit and have astronauts visit it on the upcoming Orion spacecraft as soon as 2020, called the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). But this mission already looks in jeopardy due to cost overruns and delays, and Congress said “the technological and scientific goals… have not been demonstrated”.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/congress-passes-195bn-nasa-bill-includes-humans-to-mars-and-europa-mission/

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