NASA’s Mars Rocket Passes Major Test

Andrew Follett | Energy and Science Reporter

The Space Launch System (SLS), the rocket intended to take American astronauts to Mars in 2030, passed its final full-scale tests Tuesday.

This was NASA’s last test before the SLS makes it first un-crewed flight into space in 2018, carrying the Orion capsule. Astronauts won’t ride the rocket into orbit until at least 2021.

“NASA and Orbital ATK’s successful SLS booster test represents progress toward future deep space missions,” Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “As Americans, we should maintain our leadership in space and work toward successfully completing a crewed mission to Mars. Unfortunately, year after year, the Obama administration woefully under budgets the SLS and the Orion crew vehicle programs which are the very programs that will get us there.”

The plan for SLS and Orion to carry astronauts to Mars has been repeatedly sabotaged by the Obama adminstration, which was accused of leaking information to the press about missions and has threatened to veto the projects.

The space agency’s budget includes more than $2 billion for its Earth Science Mission Directorate for global warming science, which is specifically allocated to improve climate modeling, weather prediction and natural hazard mitigation. In comparison, NASA’s other functions, such as astrophysics and space technology, are only getting a mere $781.5 and $826.7 million, respectively, in the budget proposal.

“The Science Committee is dedicated to restoring  funding for crucial programs being developed to pave the way for a human presence in deep space,” Smith continued. “America leads the world in space exploration, and that is a leadership role we cannot take for granted.  It has been over 40 years since astronaut Gene Cernan became the last man to walk on the moon. Yesterday’s test of the booster system was another positive step, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move forward on this valuable program.”

President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats consider shrinking NASA’s Mars budget to expand its global warming research as a political imperative. Obama has repeatedly attempted to cut other NASA directorates, like space exploration, so money could be redirected to global warming science.

NASA’s most important question to answer is now: “How are Earth’s climate and the environment changing?” The more typical space questions, such as “Are we alone?” and “How does the universe work?,” were at the very bottom of the list.

America is currently better prepared to visit Mars than it was to visit the Moon in the 1960s, according to a study by NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The total costs of current plans to send Americans to Mars comes out to roughly $35 billion spent by 2025 to arrive in 2030.

George Bush Sr.’s Space Exploration Initiative was projected to cost $400 billion in 1989 over 20 to 30 years, but the program never got off the ground, as it would have been the single costliest government undertaking since World War II. The George W. Bush Jr.’s Vision for Space Exploration would have cost $230 billion in 2004. In comparison, the Apollo program whcih landed astronauts on the Moon would have cost roughly $170 billion in 2005 dollars, making cost estimates for current plans appear inexpensive in comparison.

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Tags : barack obama bill nye energy house science committee lamar smith orbital atk planetary society
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