The mission to Mars project has long been on NASA's radar. In fact, it is fast becoming a priority objective for the American space administration.
The truth is NASA has locked in on the Red Planet program even before the US Presidential election has commenced. Considering that the organization has received warm reception from the Obama presidency, it is highly likely that Hillary Clinton will continue his predecessor's initiative.
However, following the unexpected win of Republican business magnate Donald Trump at the polls, NASA may have to reassess its position. This means that the joint space explorations with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia will have to be put on hold.
According to former NASA personnel Keith Cowing, who presently edits Nasawatch.com, a Clinton victory has been widely anticipated since the Democrats are keener in sustaining the space program. Although apprehensions are nowhere to found after Trump's win, the uncertainty has crept in during the days that soon followed. Perceived advisers have been kept out of the President-elect's circle.
Considering that those people may have been supportive of the space projects, NASA has to contend with doubt at that point. However, the emergence of Christopher Shank on the transition group has provided a beacon of light. The former senior policy employee at NASA has also been on House Science Committee of the US Congress.
With him on Trump's team, it is observed that he will be taking a closer look at NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) which will be tapped to send astronauts to Mars. Although Shank's presence on the new administration is a boost for NASA, it is also perilous considering that SLS has been intense scrutiny due to its sky-rocketing budget. Judging that the launch system will only uncork four projects from 2018 to 2026, the billion-dollar program is indeed very expensive.
The SLS has come under further criticism following the progress of finance-conscious Elon Musk whose SpaceX undertaking will soon be unveiling the manufacturing of its very own Heavy Falcon rocket. Lori Garver, who has been on Obama's transition team in 2008 and became NASA's Deputy Administrator in 2009, has chimed in that cancelling the SLS program will be the best option for the Trump presidency.
Prior to the polls, Trump has stated that NASA will have a free rein on its operations. However, the incoming US President intends to make budget cuts over the coming months which will probably keep the space organization on its toes.