Here’s What A Trump Or Clinton Victory Could Mean For NASA

Left: REUTERS/Mike Segar Right: Carlos Barria/Files

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Experts suspect that, if elected, Republican nominee Donald Trump would take America’s space program in a vastly different direction than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s space program would likely be focused on exploring space with robotic probes and sending humans to Mars, while Clinton would divert more money into environmental and global warming science.

“NASA should be focused primarily on deep-space activities rather than Earth-centric work that is better handled by other agencies,” Robert S. Walker and Peter Navarro, both senior advisers to the Trump campaign, wrote in an opinion piece published in SpaceNews. “Human exploration of our entire solar system by the end of this century should be NASA’s focus and goal.”

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, pledged on Twitter in late October to head a reinstated National Space Council, which would dictate much of U.S. space policy and coordinate civil and military space agencies. The Council is traditionally headed by the sitting vice president. President Barack Obama promised to re-establish the organization before taking office, but never actually did it.

Clinton’s surrogates are much less interested in exploring the universe, and much more interested in paying for more global warming science.

Casey Dreier, director of space policy at the Planetary Society, told Space.com that if Clinton is elected, she would “continue the Obama administration’s prioritization of [Earth] science at NASA, keeping funding at around 1.8 [billion] to 2 billion [dollars] a year.”

Experts have previously blamed Obama’s focusing of NASA on global warming for many of the agency problems. Obama has repeatedly tried to slash space exploration funding and redirect it to Earth science programs, which include climate modeling initiatives designed to measure global warming. Obama increased NASA’s budget for environmental programs by 63 percent at the expense of its exploration budget.

Obama twice stymied the Constellation program, designed to take humans back to the moon, and eventually to Mars, by leaking information to the press and threatening to veto the projects. NASA astronauts now rely on the Russians to reach space, and NASA has been forced by the Obama administration to delay the Mars mission until 2030.

Clinton would undoubtedly continue shifting money from NASA’s exploration and robotics programs to its environmental sciences and “outreach” programs. Obama’s budget manages to cut every part of NASA that actually works, including planetary science programs, technological development programs, and many important future Mars missions — without saving any money.

NASA’s budget includes more than $2 billion for the agency’s Earth Science Mission Directorate, which covers global warming science. The money will be 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.

If elected, Clinton would likely continue Obama’s policies of prioritizing global warming science over space exploration. Obama even siphoned funding from NASA’s mission to search for life on Jupiter’s moon Europa and cash intended to develop a rocket to visit Mars to pay for more global warming research.

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