US House Bill: 'End Asteriod Mission, Moon Is Better Temporary Destination'
NASA's Mars mission may be affected when the United States' House makes changes on a bill that covers the space agency's funding for the next fiscal year. On Monday, the complete draft of the bill was released containing the House' calls to turn NASA's red planet goals to a lunar exploration first.
The space agency and the White House have been asked by the National Research Council to reconsider Moon as a temporary destination. When President Obama's space policy speech came to light in 2010, NASA has been coming after loosely defined program of sending first the astronauts to check on a piece of an asteroid located near the Moon and challenges the sustainability and viability of the direct-to-Mars project.
NASA is encouraged to create plans to go back to the Moon and examine the capabilities needed for Mars, like lunar prospecting, landing and ascent vehicles and habitation modules. With the new House budget, no funds will be allocated for the space agency to continue with its plan to conduct crewed or robotic mission to an asteroid. The committee that supports the bill that will provide funding for the fiscal year 2017 recognizes the useful elements of the asteroid mission, like the asteroid deflection and propulsion research. However, the committee discovered that neither a crewed or robotic mission to an asteroid could help with the comprehensive Mars mission, IGN reported.
Nonetheless, the bill will still need to be approved by the House and the Appropriations Committee before squaring with the Senate legislation that does not clearly demonstrated the call for lunar landings and mission as a precursor to a red planet mission.
NASA's human spaceflight projects will not be compelled by the new law to be entirely modified. While NASA administrator Charles Bolden has vowed not to oppose the House proposal, he is expected to leave the space agency when President Obama's term ends. According to reports, other senior leaders of NASA are in favor of returning to the Moon first. With NASA's Space Launch System and Orions being developed, both are expected to easily adapt to to the lunar explorations, according to ARS Technica.