US President Trump has approved Nasa to conduct a manned mission to Mars by 2033 according to a new budget decree.
The president approved this date as part of a new budget for US space agency Nasa which seeks to refocus the organization towards deep space exploration.
All up, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017 will authorize $19.1bn of spending this year.
Previously Nasa had the vague target of a manned Mars mission in the “mid-2030s”, however this new bill sets a concrete date.
“With this legislation, we support Nasa’s scientists, engineers, astronauts and their pursuit of discovery,” said US President Trump during a signing ceremony at the White House.
“…this nation is ready to be the first in space once again. Today we’re taking the initial steps toward a bold and brave new future for American space flight.”
Nasa also received the funding warmly, with its acting administrator saying the agency was ready to “meet the challenge of pioneering new frontiers in space”.
Despite the funding there currently is no publically available information on exactly how Nasa plans to send astronauts to Mars.
Right now they could theoretically use Nasa’s Space Launch System, a super-heavy lift rocket currently under development, however, this would require multiple launches.
Alternatively, they could make use of the proposed Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) – a larger rocket to built by SpaceX for the purpose of Martian colonization.
SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, however, was critical of the funding approved by Trump, saying it would do little to help get humans to Mars.
“This bill changes almost nothing about what Nasa is doing. Existing programs stay in place and there is no added funding for Mars,” Musk remarked on Twitter.
“Perhaps there will be some future bill that makes a difference for Mars, but this is not it.”
Nonetheless, the newly approved Nasa budget provides a redoubled commitment to work with private spaceflight companies as part of manned space activities.