New boost of hope for people on Mars: Congress passes first authorization law in FIVE YEARS that includes funding for Red Planet exploration
- Congress passed a NASA authorization bill that will allocate funding to a Moon to Mars program
- The program involves setting up a lunar base first and then sending humans to Mars
- Both missions use the Space Launch System and the Orion crew pod
NASA is one step closer to putting human boots on Mars after Congress passed the first authorization bill for the US space agency in five years, including funding for the Artemis mission to not only continue its work to the moon, but also to fly to the Red Planet .
Within the 1.054 page document is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2022 containing the Moon to Mars Program component to be enacted 120 days after the law goes into effect.
This includes implementing processes to ensure a lunar base and orbiting outpost are built, spacesuits are made, and designs for human habitats on Mars are in the works. However, the bill does not state the exact amount that will be given to NASA to make it all happen.
The last time Congress approved funding for NASA was in 2017, when the NASA Transition Authorization Act was passed. The US space agency received $19.5 billion in funding, the bulk of which was earmarked for public-private partnerships with commercial space companies and to prepare for the trip to Mars.
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NASA goes to Mars: Congress passes law that will provide US space agency with money to put humans on the Red Planet
The announcement was tucked into the “Creating Useful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS), which passed by the House on July 28 by 243-187 votes and includes $52 billion to spend making chips and exploring space.” .
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released this statement on Thursday following the bill’s approval: “I am incredibly pleased that Congress has passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2022 — the first authorization for our agency in five years.
“This bill demonstrates continued bipartisan support for NASA’s many missions, including our Moon to Mars approach, as well as extending U.S. participation in the International Space Station through 2030.”
The bill notes that the program will include a “human Mars orbital mission and a human mission to the surface,” which could mean NASA will send a group to Mars, circle it, and then return to Earth before they land on the surface.
The bill states that the space cockpit heroes will be launched aboard the Space Launch System and the Orion crew pod, which will also take the first woman and person of color to the moon.
The document also states that the Space Launch System and the Orion crew pod will be used to transport humans to the Red Planet. Both craft will bring the first woman and person of color to the moon — this could happen by 2025.
While the bill does not specify money for the Moon to Mars program, it does show that it will give chip makers a boost to compete with China.
Grants totaling $52 billion, as well as an investment tax credit for chip factories worth an estimated $24 billion, will be allocated to U.S. manufacturers over the next five years.
However, NASA is making moves with its existing Mars program that its Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter is currently exploring the Martian surface.
The US space agency on Wednesday announced plans to send two more mini helicopters to Mars in 2027 to collect samples on the Red Planet that will be returned to Earth in 2033 and analyzed for ancient signs of life.
The new innovations are inspired by Ingenuity, which is already on Mars but will be equipped with wheels and grab arms to help it scoop up rocks and Martian soil.
The samples are then collected by the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission originally set up to bring a second rover to the Red Planet. However, NASA is taking advantage of the successful containments and believes eyes in the Martian sky will be a great addition to the search.