Mar 27, 2017 12:53 AM EDT
The United States Congress and NASA faces a decision deadlock regarding the planned Mars exploration by 2030. Either cut the budget for the International Space Station so that Mars program may continue or sacrifice the opportunities of the red planet for the ISS. According to Texas representative Brian Babin, the congressional oversight sub-committee is in for this tough decision.
Babin stressed that should NASA astronauts stay on the International Space Station after 2024, the Mars exploration might suffer a budget setback. The House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Space is currently weighing the options for the NASA Mars mission.
Babin added that the International Space Station is similar to a stagnant project where taxpayers' money is spent in low Earth orbit, Space reported. The immediate effect of this is missed an opportunity for the lucrative call of planet Mars. NASA needs all the funding that it can withdraw from some existing missions and funnel them to Mars.
The NASA themselves explained that an annual budget of $3.5 billion is being spent on the International Space Station. Even for transportation of crews and cargo alone, a staggering $1.7 billion was allocated. Needless to say, astronauts think that sulking in what is already achieved is a waste when it could have been spent on Mars exploration instead.
The NASA associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier said that half of total budget is being spent on space program alone. Their pet project, the Orion deep-space capsule, and the SLS or Space Launch System promise a breakthrough on Mars. However, an added funding for the two can be sourced out from existing programs like the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration voiced their concern over the US' planned withdrawal from the International Space Station just to pave way for Mars. A premature and ill-advised decision might send a wrong signal to the commercial space companies that the ISS is up for grabs. Meaning, a day might come when the ISS may simply become a commercial outpost.
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