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Bill Nye the Science Guy Asks President Trump To Increase NASA Funding

by Jacob Lynch

Bill Nye, always a staunch supporter of the sciences, issued a set of requests on the 14th of March, through YouTube to President Donald Trump on the subject of NASA’s budget and the future of space exploration.

Nye is the current CEO of the Planetary Society, an organization founded by Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murray in 1980, as an initiative to help further the progress of space travel. Nye’s statements are asking the President to also help further that goal. [1]

Nye broke down his request into five separate talking points: Mars is the goal, orbit Mars first, strengthen NASA science, embrace commercial space, and the Five-Over-Five Plan. Each of these addresses either an aspect of space exploration or of NASA’s current operating conditions. [2]

The first point is as simple as it sounds, “Keep the planet Mars as the goal for human space exploration,” as Nye himself said in his open letter to Trump. Nye wishes for all of the already existing programs dedicated to putting a human on Mars to continue. [2]

The second point, though somewhat less important than the first, is a prerequisite to it. One of the plans Nye and some of his fellow Planetary Society members discussed had humans orbiting Mars by 2033 and landing on the planet around two or three years later.

One of the main problems is getting people to Mars, the trip could take anywhere from 100 to 300 days. It would take “only small budget increases” stated Nye, in order for a manned Mars mission to be feasible both technologically and financially. [3]

Point three focuses in on the scientific research being done at NASA. One of the issues Nye raised during this point was that NASA “supports tens of thousands of jobs” as he twice stated. Nye mainly requested that the science branches of NASA continue to receive funding as so that they can further our understanding of the universe.

Point four broadens out the scope of space exploration to encompass private space travel companies as well as NASA. Nye urged the encouragement of funding for private space companies in order that they too may explore space and widen our understanding of it.

The Five-over-five plan, as proposed in the final point, is a plan to increase NASA’s budget by five percent once a year for five years. This “would give NASA the resources necessary to achieve its goals,” accounted Nye, “In congress, there is bipartisan support for increasing NASA’s budget.” If both political sides can agree that something is of importance, than it should be treated as such.

Whether or not the President has actually seen Nye’s video is uncertain; however Trump did sign a bill last Tuesday proposing NASA’s budget for this year be 19.5 billion dollars. “I’m delighted to sign this bill. It’s been a long time since a bill like this has been signed, reaffirming our commitment to the core mission of NASA: human space exploration, space science and technology,” Trump stated. [4]

While Trump’s choice of words here sounds very hopeful, some people are not pleased with them. “This bill changes almost nothing about what NASA is doing. Existing programs stay in place and there is no added funding for Mars,” tweeted Elon Musk, the founder and head of SpaceX and Tesla. The bill has also been criticized for making cuts to the earth science divisions of NASA. [5]

One can only hope that NASA is able to stand strong even if some of their programs are losing funding. After all, “space brings out the best in us,” said Nye. As long as people continue to support space exploration, we will continue to advance our collective understand of space.

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.planetary.org/about/

[2] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IA5KjpIowF8

[3] http://www.space.com/24701-how-long-does-it-take-to-get-to-mars.html

[4] http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/trump-signs-bill-authorizing-nasa-funding-mars-exploration-46278588

[5] https://futurism.com/elon-musk-is-not-smiling-over-trumps-19-5-nasa-budget/