President Donald Trump signed a bill on Tuesday that authorizes funding of NASA and the exploration of Mars, S.442 - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017
With a stroke of the pen, the Trump administration committed to funding NASA’s continued plans for deep space human exploration, this bill approved $19.5 billion allotted towards those goals including a proposed crewed mission to Mars, scheduled to take place by 2033.
The Act was introduced to Congress back in February and presented to President Trump for approval on Tuesday, March. 9th and was signed on the 21st. This new Act is consistent with the Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 and the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016, this bill approved funding for NASA for fiscal year 2017.
Much of the budget is earmarked for the continuation of NASA’s “Journey to Mars”, the Act also expressed the need for a continued commitment to the International Space Station and the utilization of Low Earth Orbit, and other related space ventures.
Surrounded by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, the president signed the bill in the Oval Office surrounded by astronauts and supporters of the bill, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who traveled into space in 1986 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla). Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and just to his right, House Science Chairman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston — chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that controls NASA's funding also attended the bill's signing.
""America's space program has been a blessing to our people and to the entire world," Trump said. adding, "Now, this nation is ready to be the first in space once again,"
"We have the commercial companies going to and from the International Space Station and we have NASA going out and exploring the heavens," Nelson said during the signing ceremony. "And we're going to Mars."
Cruz noted that this is "the first time in seven years we've had a NASA authorization bill," and he jokingly played off Trump's comments about the challenge of being an astronaut.
"This means a great deal for the nation's space exploration, and it means a great deal for the state of Texas, and it continues America's leadership in space," Cruz said.
Later, while thanking Congress for passing the authorization bill, he praised senators' and representatives' states like Texas, Florida, and Alabama which house key NASA centers. "They've done a great service for the country and for their communities," Trump said "It's a lot of jobs, and these are great jobs,".