New boost of hope for humans on Mars: Congress passes first authorization bill in FIVE YEARS that includes funding for Red Planet exploration
- Congress passed a NASA authorization bill that will allocate funding for a Moon to Mars program
- The program entails first setting up a lunar base and then sending humans to Mars
- Both missions will use the Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule
NASA is one step closer to putting human boots on Mars after Congress passed the first authorization bill for the American space agency in five years, which includes funding for the Artemis mission to not only continue its work to the moon but also soar to the Red Planet.
Within the 1,054 page document is the ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2022’ that includes the section ‘Moon to Mars Program’ that must be established 120 days after the act goes into effect.
This includes implementing processes to ensure a lunar base and orbiting outpost are constructed, spacesuits are made and designs for human habitats on Mars are in the works. However, the bill does not state the exact amount of funds set to be given to NASA to make it all happen.
The last time Congress passed funding for NASA was back in 2017, which came with the NASA Transition Authorization Act. The American space agency received $19.5 billion in funding, with most of it set for public-private partnerships with commercial spaceflight companies, and to start gearing up for the trip to Mars.
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NASA is going to Mars: Congress passes bill that will provide the American space agency with funds to put humans on the Red Planet
The announcement was tucked into the ‘Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS), which was passed by the House on a 243–187 vote July 28 and includes $52 billion funds to be allocated between making chips and exploring space.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released this statement Thursday following approval of the act: ‘I am incredibly pleased Congress has passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2022 – the first authorization for our agency in five years.
‘This act shows continued bipartisan support of NASA’s many missions, including our Moon to Mars approach, as well extension of U.S. participation in the International Space Station to 2030.’
The bill notes that the program will include a ‘human Mars orbital mission and a human mission to the surface,’ which could mean that NASA will send a group to Mars, circle it and then head back to Earth before landing them on the surface.
The bill states that the space fairing heroes will launch aboard the Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule, which will also take he first woman and person of color to the moon
The document also states that the Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule will be used to shuttle humans to the Red Planet. Both of the craft are taking the first woman and person of color to the moon – this could happen by 2025.
While the bill does not specify funds for the Moon to Mars program, it does show it is giving chip manufactures a boost to compete with China.
Grants totaling $52 billion, as well as an investment tax credit for chip plants estimated to be worth $24 billion, with be allocated to US manufactures over the next five years.
NASA, however, is making moves with its existing Mars program that has its Perseverance rover and Ingenuity chopper currently exploring the Martian surface.
The American space agency announced plans Wednesday to send two more mini choppers to Mars in 2027 to collect samples on the Red Planet that will be brought back to Earth in 2033 and analyzed for ancient signs of life.
The new innovations pull inspiration from Ingenuity, which is already on Mars, but will be fitted with wheels and grappling arms to help it scoop up rocks and Martian soil.
The samples will then be collected by the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission that was initially set to bring a second rover to the Red Planet. However, NASA is riding on the successful curtails and believes eyes in the Martian sky will be a great addition to the search.
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