President Trump announced an additional $1.6 billion in funding for NASA to bankroll America’s return to space “in a big way,” specifically the Moon and Mars as key targets.
“We are restoring NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars,” Trump tweeted on Monday afternoon, adding that the additional funding will enable the US to “return to Space in a BIG WAY!”
Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2019
Currently, the United States has no vessels capable of taking astronauts into orbit, let alone the moon or any other planet. The Space Shuttle program was canceled back in 2011, and NASA has relied on Russia for trips to the International Space Station ever since then.
Plans for manned launches using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule hit a hitch after the vessel exploded during a test on April 20. Details about the incident still remain unknown, as NASA and SpaceX have suppressed any information from leaking to the general public.
Vice President Mike Pence recently announced plans to build a station in lunar orbit and put American astronauts on the Moon by 2024.
Last week, Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos pitched cooperation with his space company Blue Origin as a way for NASA to meet that deadline. Meanwhile, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has spoken with enthusiasm about the prospect of setting up a base on the Moon and colonizing Mars – using his rockets, of course.
President Trump’s interest in space has not been purely as a civilian, either. After months of promoting ‘Space Force’ to defend US national interests in orbit and beyond, Trump signed a decree back in February it as a subsidiary of the US Air Force, rather than a separate branch of the military in its own right. International treaties dating back to the 1960s prohibit weaponization of space, but the Trump administration has scrapped numerous treaties over the past two years.
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