President Trump signed a NASA advisory bill into law today in Washington with both astronauts and lawmakers from both parties standing near. A focus of the bill adds a manned mission to Mars by 2030, as well as authorizing NASA to direct test human space flight programs that will enable more manned space exploration.
"For almost six decades NASA's work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on Earth," said Trump. "With this legislation, we support NASA's scientists, engineers, astronauts and their pursuit of discovery," Trump continued. "It's been a long time since a bill like this has been signed reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of NASA, human space exploration, space science and technology."
NBC reported, “The space agency has $19.5 billion in funding for the 2018 fiscal year, which starts this October. Trump had allocated $19.1 billion for NASA in his budget, which is slightly down from the current year, but still an improvement from the past decade, which saw the end of the space shuttle program.”
The president seemed mostly interested in the jobs aspect of the bill.
State representatives from states that house major NASA facilities such as Alabama, California, Florida, and Texas, received a special acknowledgment from Trump. “They’ve done a great service for the country and for their communities. It’s a lot of jobs, and these are great jobs,” Trump said.
The Dallas Morning News observed a “peace offering” from the president to Senator Ted Cruz, when he offered him the pen used to sign the authorization bill, while the others merely received souvenir pens. Trump is looking for the senator’s support for the new healthcare bill that Trump is hoping to see clear the House on Thursday. Senator Cruz has been one of the loudest critics of the new healthcare measure, telling CBS that Americans would “tar and feather” GOP lawmakers if premiums continue to rise with the passage of the bill.
After taking a brief moment to contemplate the bravery required to travel in space, Trump teased his former presidential candidate rivals, Cruz and Marco Rubio, asking if they’d be interested.
“You could send Congress to space,” joked Cruz.
Trump agreed, “We could. What a great idea that could be.”
Representative John Culberson remarked, “Just as Americans remember that President Eisenhower was the father of the interstate highway system, future generations will remember that President Donald Trump was the father of the interplanetary highway system.”
"Well that sounds exciting," Trump said, adding, "First we want to fix our highways. We're going to fix our highways."