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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Will a President Trump change NASA’s Mars goals?

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a sloping hillside within the "Murray Buttes" region on Mars.

IMAGE CREDIT: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a sloping hillside within the "Murray Buttes" region on Mars.

29

December

Turmoil with Russia and uncertainty with how Donald Trump will “refocus” the U.S. space program is having no effect on NASA’s goal of getting humans to Mars, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is telling anyone who will listen.

During a recent stop in Tallahassee, the lone statewide elected Democrat in Florida, chided reporters for not asking more about the space program and the nation’s efforts to explore Mars.

“It is my interest to see that NASA doesn’t miss a beat,” under the Trump administration, Nelson told reporters. He re-affirmed plans to get humans to Mars by 2033 and another to have a new American rocket to take U.S. astronauts to space within the next two years.

“We’re well on our way,” said Nelson, who is the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee which has jurisdiction over NASA.

His comments come as National Geographic Channel’s docudrama Mars sets rating records for the typically low profile cable network channel. The $20 million mini-series co-produced by director Ron Howard pulled in more than 1 million views nationally and 15.5 globally during just its first week on air.

It is not a shocker that Nelson, who flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986, would be an ardent backer of NASA’s mission. But Nelson’s comments come during a time of increasing distrust with Russia of their interference in the U.S. presidential election and Trumps victory in November.

But Nelson said America and Russia are still working on the international space center together well despite the tension. And he said he is hopeful the Trump administration will also be committed to heading to Mars.

During the campaign, Trump said NASA needed reforms but said he supported space exploration, like a mission to Mars.

“Under a Trump Administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars,” he told a rally in central Florida in October.

[Last modified: Thursday, December 29, 2016 2:06pm]

    

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