Trump signs new bill to send humans to Mars
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$19.5 billion has been authorized to support a renewed commitment to NASA's manned space program.

Known as the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, the new bill is set to herald in a new era of space missions and research with a strong emphasis on manned spaceflight.

The upcoming Orion capsule and Space Launch System have received particularly strong support, with a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s being one of the items at the top of the agenda.

The previously planned asteroid redirection mission, which aimed to bring an asteroid in to a closer orbit and then send a crew to visit it, has now been officially scrapped.

A flight to the Moon as early as next year however is now on the agenda as a possible alternative.

"It's been a long time since a bill like this has been signed reaffirming our national commitment to the core mission of NASA, human space exploration, space science and technology," said Trump.

The bill also supports plans for a new car-sized rover on Mars by 2020, a mission to look for life on Jupiter's moon Europa and efforts to locate exoplants using the James Webb Space Telescope.

Former astronauts are now also set to receive health care for life for spaceflight-related ailments.