President Trump’s budget is unlikely to become law because of bipartisan opposition to many of its elements. But NASA would love for it to pass.
“President Trump’s fiscal year 2020 NASA budget is one of the strongest on record for our storied agency,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
NASA’s budget is set at $21 billion, a 6 percent increase from last year’s request. Most notably, $10.7 billion is designated for funding exploration initiatives that are geared toward sending astronauts to the moon by the late 2020s.
Some of the specifics outlined in NASA’s proposal are funds for the completion of the Space Launch System rocket, which will propel human-occupied spacecraft to the moon, as well as the Lunar Gateway, a moon-orbiting station that NASA hopes is operational by the mid-2020s. NASA is also requesting money for landers capable of cargo delivery and human access to the lunar surface by the late 2020s. All of this is to ensure that humans will not simply travel to the moon and back. This time, Bridenstine said, “we will stay.” The idea, ultimately, is that the moon will serve as a launch pad for trips to Mars.
Administrator @JimBridenstine mentions that ‘the Gateway isn’t just about getting to the Moon. [….] The Gateway gives us the opportunity to study deep space from a human-tended space station.’ #Moon2Mars pic.twitter.com/r1PbCgH8oK
— NASA (@NASA) March 11, 2019
The budget also includes missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is famed for its frozen surface and the possibility that it is hiding large quantities of water, and the first round-trip mission to Mars, in which a spacecraft will return to Earth after traveling to the Red Planet. Read more at NASA.