Proposed NASA budget takes one small step toward the Moon

This uncrewed cargo mission plans to deliver three tons of food fuel and other supplies

Almost half of the proposed $19.9 billion budget - $10.5 billion - is earmarked for "an innovative and sustainable campaign of exploration and lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilisation followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations", according to a NASA overview.

The US plan, the paper said, involves privatising the ISS, a low-orbit space station piloted by the US space agency NASA and developed jointly with its Russian counterpart.

The budget request, which was released today (Feb. 12), allocates about $19.9 billion to NASA, an increase of $370 million over last year's request.

Private businesses already have a hand in the space station project.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed turning over to private businesses U.S. operations on the International Space Station, which is now run jointly by the U.S. and Russian governments.

"It's a hard issue", W├Ârner said, however a partly privatized space station would "not be the end of the world".

The engineers and scientists associated with WFIRST have to now wait for Congress to deal with its own budget proposals for the 2019 fiscal year in the next few months and hope that lawmakers have a better deal lined up for the future of the mission than the president has.

Elon Musk's SpaceX company and Orbital ATK have been delivering to the station since 2012.

He said the move would put the USA on course to "do something exciting" in space for the first time in years, adding that his company is "ready" to partner with NASA on its moon efforts.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, made it clear last week that he opposes any plan to terminate the International Space Station as long as it can be productively operated.

Donald Trump and many of his climate-conservative supporters find that the USA space agency spends too much money and energy to observe and study our planet, and especially its climate, instead of doing something to explore the space.

The International Space Station has hosted astronauts since 2000.

Asked after the speech if there was any chance the ISS would end in 2024, he said he didn't believe so unless there was a technical reason for ending the station at that point. NASA pays for launch costs and astronauts' time to run the experiments.

On the science side, the budget continues support for high-profile planetary missions, such as the life-hunting 2020 Mars rover and Europa Clipper, which will investigate the habitability of Jupiter's ocean-harboring moon Europa. Drug companies like Merck and Eli Lilly have used the space station to research medications.

The president's budget proposal, including NASA's portion, was obsolete even before it was made public, but it provides a view into the administration's priorities.

And SpaceX and Boeing are each developing spacecrafts to send astronauts to and from the space station.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, called it a "pretty exciting time" for the agency. There's only two crew missions a year.

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