Trump signs bill authorizing NASA funding, Mars exploration

President Donald Trump hands out pens in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, after signing ceremony a bill to increase NASA's budget to $19.5 billion and directs the agency to focus human exploration of deep space and Mars. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that adds exploration of Mars as a NASA goal.

The new law also authorizes $19.5 billion in space agency funding for the 2018 budget year, which starts Oct. 1. Trump recently sent Congress a budget proposal that authorizes $19.1 billion for the space agency next year, down slightly from the current year.

The new law amends current law to add human exploration of Mars as one of NASA’s objectives. It also directs NASA to manage human space flight programs to help humans to explore Mars and other destinations.

Trump signed the bill Tuesday in the Oval Office surrounded by astronauts and bill sponsors, including Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Both senators challenged Trump during the presidential campaign.

 

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