WASHINGTON — The Trump Administration set some ambitious goals for future space exploration, including a mission to return to the moon in three years. Now, a major question remains: Will NASA’s big projects survive with a new Congress and a new administration in the White House?
What You Need To Know
- Biden has not chosen a NASA administrator yet
- Last Congressional funding bill did not include more money for the Artemis Project
- Biden administration will not get rid of Space Force
- RELATED: Space Florida: Few Changes to Space Program Expected Under Biden
President Joe Biden appointed NASA’s first-ever climate adviser Wednesday. However, he has yet to decide who will lead the agency overall.
“The first days of the administration are a real indicator of your priorities, and space has been nowhere to be found so far,” said Rep. Michael Waltz, R-U.S. House District 6.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Wednesday that the U.S. Space Force created by former President Trump would continue.
"They absolutely have the full support of the Biden Administration,” Psaki said in response to a question from a reporter.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized that the mission in space is key to protecting national security during his confirmation hearing.
“With the advent of space-based platforms, those kinds of things can give us the types of capabilities that we will need to hold large pieces of Chinese military inventory at risk,” he said.
Biden will soon face difficult decisions about the future of American interests in space.
“Florida has always been the leader when it comes to space, the space industry, that is going to continue,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, D-U.S. House District 14.
“President Biden has a moon rock in the Oval Office to remind him constantly to reach for the stars,” she added.
ICYMI: A reminder of our @NASAArtemis pledge to return to the Moon now sits in the Oval Office. Learn more about the lunar sample on loan to the @WhiteHouse: https://t.co/4mUhUR46qJ pic.twitter.com/1czY8HyaF9— NASA (@NASA) January 21, 2021
Perseverance, the Mars Rover, is scheduled to land on the red planet on February 18. The next leap in that Mars mission — the Artemis Project — could be in trouble. That is the project to bring humans back to the moon.
The goal was to get there by 2024, but that is looking uncertain. A budget passed by Congress last month does not include enough money to make that happen. As a result, NASA delayed plans to award private companies contracts to create the system's lunar lander.
Technical issues are also delaying the project. A critical test of the Space Launch System's engines did not go as planned last month, putting the first planned launch date, expected to happen this fall, in jeopardy.
“If history is any guide, it’s not good for our space program," Waltz said. "I hope Biden has changed his tune and makes space, and particularly space exploration, a real priority."