President Trump is seeking billions of dollars in new funding for NASA aimed at returning astronauts to the moon within four years, according to administration officials.
Trump will propose a 12 percent budget increase for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration when he releases his spending plan next week. The boost includes funding to develop human landers, Fox News has confirmed.
No one has been to the moon since 1972 under NASA’s now-shuttered Apollo program. But since taking office, Trump has made space exploration a top priority, and his administration has set a target of 2024 for the next lunar landing.
NASA's new space program named Artemis, for the Greek goddess of the moon and sister to Apollo, aims to put the first woman on the moon. Long-term, NASA wants to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon with the goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.
Trump’s budget will increase NASA spending from about $22.6 billion to $25.2 billion in fiscal 2021, one of the biggest spending increases requested since the 1990s. The NASA budget proposal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The big lunar budget request is in addition to Trump’s other astronomical project: Space Force. Trump signed an Oval Office directive last February to make the Space Force the sixth branch of the military, with a mission to patrol the orbit and protect the U.S. from attacks.
Trump’s budget would have to get approval from the Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-majority House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump previewed the proposal in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
“We must embrace the next frontier, America's manifest destiny in the stars,” said Trump, who invited a young aspiring astronaut to the Capitol as one of his guests.
“I am asking the Congress to fully fund the Artemis program to ensure that the next man and the first woman on the moon will be American astronauts -- using this as a launching pad to ensure that America is the first nation to plant its flag on Mars.”
The White House also wants to double funding for artificial intelligence research and quantum information sciences to nearly $3 billion by 2022.
The investment in quantum computing to develop technology millions of times faster than today’s supercomputers was first reported by Reuters.
Meanwhile, Trump aims to cut down on government waste by ending the federal government’s use-it-or-lose-it spending sprees. Agencies have splurged on alcohol, lobster tail, crab and workout equipment at the end of the year to show Congress there’s no money left over for lawmakers to cut.