U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

Serving Florida

$19.5 billion NASA bill includes commitment to Mars

By Ledyard King, Gannett (Florida Today)
Feb 17, 2017
WASHINGTON – The Senate has officially told NASA to go to Mars.
 
By voice vote, senators passed a $19.5 billion authorization bill directing the space agency to send humans to the Red Planet in the next quarter-century.
 
“This bill marks the beginning of a new era of American spaceflight,” said Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the chief sponsor and the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees NASA.
 
The measure, which now goes to the House, only authorizes the $19.5 billion; it does not appropriate the actual money. Congress will be asked to do that in separate legislation later. If approved, the amount roughly would amount to what the agency received last year.
 
The bill also would:
 
– Affirm the current priorities of the space program, including continued development of the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and the Orion crew vehicle for deep space exploration.
 
On Tuesday, June 24th, 2014, the Mars Curiosity rover celebrated its first full Martian year of inhabitation on the planet. That accounts for 687 Earth days. By Tim Walters Posted June 24, 2014
 
– Support complete utilization of the International Space Station through at least 2024, and the use of private companies partnering with NASA to deliver cargo and experiments.
 
Obama makes final push for Mars
– Require NASA to submit a report to Congress outlining how it plans to gradually transfer operations in low-earth orbit from a model largely reliant on government support to one relying more on commercial enterprise.
 
– Authorize NASA to expands medical monitoring of astronauts, including scientific and medical tests for psychological and medical conditions associated with human space flight.