Charles Bolden says it’s a “clear vote of confidence” in the space agency and its projects

NASA hailed a proposal by the Obama administration to increase the space agency’s spending to $18.5 billion for fiscal year 2016. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that the space agency has made significant strides in the journey to Mars. It has conducted “near flawless” test flight of its Orion space vehicle that will eventually take humans to Mars.

NASA's Mars Dreams Get A Boost With White House Proposal

Both parties support NASA

The new budget proposal will boost the space agency’s chances to reach Mars and move forward with other deep space missions such as the exploration of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Bolden said NASA has also successfully handed over the International Space Station (ISS) resupply missions to private players like SpaceX.

President Barack Obama’s $3.99 trillion budget plan for 2016 faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Congress. But both parties have come out in support of NASA. The $18.5 billion budget proposal for NASA is $500 million higher than the 2015 budget. Bolden said it was a “clear vote of confidence” in the space agency and its projects.

NASA’s Mars exploration program accounts for $8.51 billion of the 2016 budget request. Another $3.1 billion has been proposed for ISS operations, $2.86 billion for the Orion space capsule and Space Launch System (SLS) booster, $1.24 billion for commercial crew spacecraft and another $400 million for research & development.

NASA has identified several asteroids

Bolden said that the proposed budget includes funding for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa and asteroid redirect mission (ARM). It also includes funding to keep the James Webb Space Telescope on track for launch in 2018. NASA is currently developing advanced solar electric propulsion systems for the asteroid redirect mission.

The space agency said it has identified many asteroids that could be good candidates. For Europa exploration, it will select instruments this spring before moving to the next phase of development. In 2011, NASA sent a solar-powered Juno spacecraft to Jupiter that is expected to reach its destination in July 2016. The European Space Agency (ESA) is already working on a spacecraft that will explore Jupiter’s moons, including Europa.