Another Giant Leap for Mankind
For many years previous to 2018, NASA’s budget has stayed constant. Due to inflation, what this really means is that NASA has been losing a few percent per year for at least 10 years. However, Donald Trump’s interest in sending men to the moon as well as potentially other planets, such as Mars, caused Congress to devote interest in funding the cause. Trump remarked: “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”
In May, an $810 million increase proposal was approved by the House Appropriations Committee. If this becomes law, NASA will be appointed $21.5 billion budget for the next year. This money is intended to make advances on Orion, a new exploration spacecraft. It is also devoted to create the Space Launch System, which may be the most powerful rocket ever built.
The Senate’s spending bill also raises the funds of NASA, although not as substantially as the House’s, who recommended $21.3 billion.
In March, a fiscal deal became law which appropriated a $1.1 billion fund increase from the prior fiscal year, $75 million of which is intended to be used by the Mars Exploration Program. This money will be significant to this project’s mission, which currently is to use a robotic spacecraft to bring back samples from Mars.
NASA also plans to send astronauts to the International Space Station and back aboard the “Dragon.” This is a test flight to determine whether this spacecraft is capable of transporting humans to space, instead of cargo, as it has done previously.
Despite the huge increase in budget being allocated to NASA, space exploration advocates are weary that it isn’t enough. During the period of moon exploration, 4% of the federal budget was used by NASA. Without these funds, America is falling behind in space travel and important developments. With less than half of a percent of the federal budget, NASA can not compete with other programs and companies that are making great strides in space exploration.