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Senate Budget Plan Sends NASA To Mars

Technicians at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans finished welding together the primary structure of the Orion spacecraft destined for deep space. Photo: NASA

A senate panel approved a $19.5 billion budget for NASA next year. It’s the first time lawmakers are directing the space agency to head to Mars.

The budget blueprint directs funds to NASA’s so-called ‘Journey To Mars,’ stipulating the agency develop and submit a plan for humans to explore the red planet.

Also allocated in the budget, a plan to begin shifting operations in low-earth orbit from government support to private commercial aerospace companies.

The budget plan continues funding NASA’s next rocket, the Space Launch System, and crew capsule Orion.

Policy experts say this budget is just one part of a comprehensive blue print that will shape NASA’s direction for years to come.

“As a new Administration enters office in 2017,” says Casey Dreier, director of space policy at The Planetary Society, “this bill could help provide important continuity for NASA’s efforts to send humans to Mars and search for life beyond Earth.”

The bill was sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »