New NASA Administrator, and former Congressman, Bill Nelson said Tuesday that the space agency is hoping to get $5 billion in infrastructure funding to help its ambitious mission plans for the Moon and Mars.
“We need what everybody in America needs, infrastructure,” Nelson said on “American Agenda." “You were just talking about the infrastructure bill going to the full Senate. I do hope and pray that some of NASA’s $5 billion of infrastructure needs are going to be addressed in that, along with roads, and bridges, and broadband, and all the other things that everybody wants.”
Nelson, a Democrat, served 19 years in the House and 18 years in the Senate representing Florida, and is the second sitting member of Congress to have flown in space as a payload specialist for the Columbia space shuttle.
He said he is scheduled to testify in front of Congress tomorrow as part of President Joe Biden’s budget presentation.
Nelson said the agency has an extremely ambitious plan for missions to both the Moon and Mars soon, and that will cost money.
“It's a great NASA budget that has been proposed by the White House,” he said. “But we're going to have to have a lot of landings on the moon, and that's going to need some competition for all of those landings, and that's going to need some more money to conduct that competition.”
Nelson said the planned missions will really get underway later this year with the launch of the SLS Space Launch System rocket.
“It's the largest rocket ever. It's the most powerful rocket, (and) it will launch at the end of this year,” he said. “It will go out way beyond the moon and come back. In two years, we will go to the moon with humans. (They will go) around the Moon and back, and land safety, and that is in preparation to eventually have many, many landings on the surface of the Moon.”
Nelson said the eventual aim is to have manned crews fly missions to Mars, which would “take months” to get there, and then crews would have to stay on the Martian surface for a couple of years until the planets realign for the trip back.
Nelson said the improvements in technology from the various space programs have benefited the people in the nation.
“If you ever doubt the spin of those technologies into the public, look what's in most every one of your listeners pockets right now,” he said. “It's a cell phone and that camera is on a chip that was developed by NASA for its Earth observing satellites.”
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