For the first time in more than six years, both chambers of Congress passed a bill that approves funding for NASA and gives the space agency new mandates.
The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 is a bill that the Senate and House collaborated on for months, and it appropriates $19.5 billion to the agency. (NASA received $19.3 billion in 2016, or 0.5% of the total federal budget.)
When the Senate brought the bill before the House of Representatives for a vote on March 7, “no members spoke against the bill” and it passed, according to Jeff Foust at Space News.
The document asks NASA to create a roadmap for getting humans “near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s.” It also calls on the space agency to continue developing the Space Launch System (SLS) — a behemoth rocket — and the Orion space capsule in order to eventually go to the moon, Mars, and beyond.
Now it’s up to President Trump to sign the bill into law — or veto it.