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White House calls for biggest NASA budget in decades to reach the moon, Mars

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White House calls for biggest NASA budget in decades to reach the moon, Mars

US President Donald Trump makes comments during the White House Business Session with the country's governors in the White House State Dining Room, Washington, DC, USA, February 10, 2020. REUTERS / Mike Theiler

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Monday asked Congress for $ 25.2 billion to NASA in 2021, the agency's largest budget in decades, calling for steady increases over five years to meet President Donald's goal. Trump to land astronauts on the moon and on Mars.

The request would increase the budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration by 12% for the fiscal year beginning October 1, with almost half of the funds earmarked for the "Moon to Mars" program, which includes the development of lunar landings, robots robots, heavy rockets and new space suits.

"They are supporting our vision for a renewed era of discovery, offering NASA bigger and bigger budgets every year," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Monday after the White House released its plan. "Now we must deliver."

The Trump administration urged NASA early last year to reorganize its exploration program to send humans to the Moon in 2024 and Mars in the next decade, accelerating an earlier schedule and increasing its 2020 budget by $ 1.6 billion.

The budget for fiscal year 2021, one of NASA's biggest increases in general spending since the 1990s, doubles the "Moon to Mars" project, which NASA projects will cost $ 71.1 billion over the next five years, according to with a bill sent to Congress on Monday.

NASA's budget is estimated to steadily increase over the next five years to fund the program, reaching $ 28.3 billion in fiscal year 2023, mainly going to lunar landing systems developed in particular.

The budget includes $ 529 million for robotic trips to Mars, including a mission to return soil samples back to Earth and map ice deposits near the surface of the surface that could inform future human missions to the red planet.

Separately, the Trump administration's $ 740.5 billion budget request for national defense in 2021 allocates $ 15.4 billion to the U.S. Space Force, which was established on December 20 as an independent Air Force service.

Reporting by Joey Roulette; edition of Bill Tarrant and Sonya Hepinstall

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