President Barack Obama renewed his call for a manned Mars mission in the 2030’s, but he will leave office before it happens and neither Clinton nor Trump has laid out a space policy.
In an essay published by CNN, Obama said America should eventually establish a human colony on the red planet, but during the last presidential debate neither candidate spent even a moment discussing space.
“We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time.”
The 2016 election has been full of drama, but both candidates have consistently ignored one issue: outer space and their plan for NASA during the next administration.
Hillary Clinton has shown some serious interest in space travel, expressed a desire to see an expanded NASA and even publicly considered the existence of alien life. Meanwhile, Trump seems more interested in investing federal funds on earthly projects and promoting a public-private partnership in outer space.
After the second presidential debate, SpaceNews sent a nine-question survey asking each candidate about their plans for space, NASA, military operations in orbit, and a manned Mars mission.
Trump didn’t offer any specifics and his answer was short on details, but the Republican candidate did show an interest in funding military activity in orbit and support for a private-public partnership in space, reports SpaceNews.
“My administration will examine spending priorities and will make adjustments as necessary.”
Clinton’s answer was also short on details, but she did say NASA and federal investment in space technology was important for the nation and a critical component of our military strategy.
She expressed an interest in private space programs, federal funding for climate change research, and advancement toward a manned Mars mission, according to SpaceNews.
“An investment in NASA is an investment in our future. It is critical that we ensure NASA has the resources and the predictable funding it needs to achieve the goals of its missions and programs.”
When Scientific American quizzed Clinton and Trump on their space policy, the Democratic candidate responded by advocating for science education and federal funds for long-term research. Her answers were a bit vague, but she did emphasize NASA’s contribution to monitoring climate change and even discussed creating a planetary defense system to protect Earth from passing asteroids.
“Thanks to a series of successful American robotic explorers, we know more about the Red Planet than ever before. A goal of my administration will be to expand this knowledge even further and advance our ability to make human exploration of Mars a reality.”
Donald Trump was also vague and short on details about his space plan, but he did mention STEM education and collaborating with international partners in orbit.
In previous statements, the Republican candidate has appeared to favor other budget priorities over NASA and suggested the government shouldn’t be funding climate change research. When Forbes reporters asked Trump about a manned Mars mission back in August, he said he’d rather invest federal funds in more earthly projects.
“Honestly, I think it’s wonderful; I want to rebuild our infrastructure first, ok?”
Congress has shown much more dedicated interest in NASA’s plan for a manned Mars mission and recently passed a bill making it much more difficult for any future president to defund a manned Mars mission.
The $19.5 billion bill officially tasks NASA with sending humans to Mars in the next 25 years, funds space exploration missions, construction of the Space Launch System and attempts to provide some long-term direction for the agency.
What do you think of Obama’s goal for a manned Mars mission in the 2030’s?
[Featured Image by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images]