$7 billion is being designated for a NASA mission that is expected to launch sometime in 2018. NASA plans to be use their Space Launch System (SLS) to head toward Mars, and drop the Orion capsule on a circumlunar orbit around the dark side of the Moon. Asteroid and Mars-bound missions will happen a few years after, with the possibility of a manned Mars-landing sometime in 2032.
The SLS is NASA’s most powerful operational rocket, surpassing USA’s first explorational spaceship the Space Shuttle. It has recently reached a key point in its development and is headed toward a Critical Design Review, which will involve NASA working out all possible technical bugs and problems the SLS could posses before launching. This new mission is putting NASA back on the track toward exploration, joining SpaceX and other private space programs on expeditions into outer space, and developing ecologically smarter rockets.
As humanity develops, we’re stepping closer and closer to reaching our galaxy’s outer depths. However, Mars seems to be the goal that will eventually blossom into a further reach. “We are on a journey of scientific and human exploration that leads to Mars,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden commented. “And we’re firmly committed to building the launch vehicle and other supporting systems that will take us on that journey.”