Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) In a bid to help the US space agency achieve its goal of returning humans to the Moon and sending astronauts to Mars, President Donald Trump has proposed to increase the NASA budget for 2021 to $25 billion, an increase of 12 per cent over the current year's funding.Almost half of the proposed amount would be meant for sending humans to the Moon and then to the Red Planet."President Donald Trump's Fiscal Year 2021 budget for NASA is worthy of 21st century exploration and discovery," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement on Monday."The President's budget invests more than $25 billion in NASA to fortify our innovative human space exploration programme while maintaining strong support for our agency's full suite of science, aeronautics and technology work," he said.NASA wants to land the first woman and the next man on the South Pole of the Moon by 2024 under its Artemis programme."This budget keeps us firmly on that path," Bridenstine said."We are preparing to achieve pivotal milestones this year in development of the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and the Gateway. These make up the backbone of our Artemis programme and are fully supported by this budget. They constitute our ability to build a sustainable lunar presence and eventually send human missions to Mars," Bridenstine said.The budget request includes $3 billon for the development of a human landing system."This is the first time we have had direct funding for a human lander since the Apollo Programme. We are serious about our 2024 goals, and the President"s budget supports our efforts to get the job done," Bridenstine added.
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