A new boost of hope for humans on Mars: Congress passes the first authorization bill in five years that includes funding for exploration of the Red Planet
- Congress passed a NASA authorization bill that would allocate funding for the Moon to Mars program
- The program entails first creating a lunar base and then sending humans to Mars
- Both missions will use the Space Launch System and Orion’s crew capsule
NASA is close to putting a human shoe on Mars after Congress passed the US space agency’s first authorization bill five years ago, which includes funding for the Artemis mission not only to continue its work to the Moon but also to rise to the Red Planet.
Within the 1,054-page document is the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2022” which includes a “Moon to Mars Program” section that must be created 120 days after the law goes into effect.
This includes carrying out operations to ensure a lunar base and orbiting outpost, making spacesuits and designs for human habitats on Mars in the works. However, the bill does not say the exact amount of money that will be given to NASA to make it all happen.
The last time Congress approved funding for NASA was in 2017, which came with NASA’s Transition Authorization Act. The US space agency has received $19.5 billion in funding, most of which is set for public-private partnerships with commercial spaceflight companies, and to begin preparing for the trip to Mars.
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NASA is going to Mars: Congress passes a bill that would provide the US space agency with money to put humans on the red planet
The announcement was included in the “Create Beneficial Incentives for Semiconductor Production (CHIPS),” which the House passed in a vote of 243-187 on July 28 and includes $52 billion to be allocated between chip manufacturing and space exploration.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson issued this statement Thursday after the law was approved: “I am incredibly happy that Congress passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2022—our agency’s first mandate in five years.
This act demonstrates continued bipartisan support for many of NASA’s missions, including our approach from the Moon to Mars, as well as the extension of US participation in the International Space Station through 2030.
The bill notes that the program will include a “human orbital mission to Mars and a human mission to the surface,” which could mean that NASA would send a group to Mars, orbit it, and then return to Earth before landing it on the surface.
The bill states that the heroes of the Space Show will be launched aboard the Space Launch System and the crew’s Orion capsule, 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 crew’s Orion capsule will be used to transport humans to the Red Planet. Both vehicles take the first woman and person of color to the moon – that could happen by 2025.
While the bill does not specify money for the Moon-to-Mars program, it appears to give chip manufacturers a boost to compete with China.
The grants total $52 billion, plus an investment tax credit for chip mills estimated at $24 billion, with it earmarked for US manufactures over the next five years.
However, NASA is making moves with its current Mars program that contains the Perseverance Probe and Creativity Helicopter that is currently exploring the surface of Mars.
On Wednesday, the US Space Agency announced plans to send two more small helicopters to Mars in 2027 to collect samples from the Red Planet that will be returned to Earth in 2033, and analyzed for signs of ancient life.
The new innovations take inspiration from Ingenuity, which is already on the surface of Mars, but will be fitted with wheels and interlocking arms to help it collect rocks and Martian soil.
The samples will then be collected by the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission initially set to bring a second rover to the Red Planet. However, NASA is running low on success and thinks eyes in the Martian sky would be a great addition to the research.
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