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NASA Budget Focuses On Mars Mission, Cuts Science, Education

First Posted: Mar 17, 2017 05:32 AM EDT
Donald Trump
MARCH 16: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald J. Trump speaks during the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S Capitol on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.
(Photo : Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is making good on his promise to shift NASA's focus from earth sciences and education (including climate change) to space. With this, he puts NASA's budget to focus specifically on the Moon or on Mars.

According to The Washington Post, Trump is cutting back NASA funding slightly -- from $19.3 billion to $19.1 billion. The largest portion of the funds will go to human exploration division, setting aside $3.7 billion for the Orion crew vehicle and Space Launch System (SLS) jumbo rocket. This is the very same spacecraft that the agency said will get humans to Mars. In the budget outline, NASA is instructed to "investigate approaches" that could help reduce the costs of the exploration missions, in order for the agency to have a more expansive exporation program.

The budget cut for NASA is not that bad, considering that other non-defense programs were propsed to have larger cuts. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency would have a 31 percent reduction in its budget.

Naples News mentioned that the president's vision for the space agency calls for some dramatic shifts, showing the massive difference in priorities from the previous administration. However, it seems that the Trump budget will not pay for the continuation of the development of the Asteroid Redirect Mission that NASA had been pitching as a low-cost stepping stone for Mars explorations.

In the two-page outline released by the administration on Thursday, it appears that the budget is limited to the following: human exploration ($3.7 billion), commercial activities, planetary science ($1.9 billion), earth science ($1.8 billion) with a cut of nearly $100 million and aeronautics ($624 million for research and development) of faster, safer supersonic flights). The entire education budget, which used to be around $115 million, was scrapped entirely as it is "performing functions that are duplicative of other parts of the budget."

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