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The Moon, AKA the apple of NASA's eye. Photo: NASA

The Trump administration is going all-in on NASA's Artemis program to get astronauts back to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

Driving the news: The White House is asking Congress for a 12% boost to the space agency's budget for 2021, and it estimates NASA's Moon to Mars initiative will cost about $71.2 billion from 2021 to 2025.

The big picture: The budget request is a huge leap in funding for NASA, with much of it going to the agency's plans to establish a long-term presence on the Moon in the hopes of sending astronauts to Mars eventually.

"[T]hey're putting money into significant lunar lander development, service operations, modernizing spacesuits. ... Tick off all the things you need to do to land on the Moon in the next few years, this budget is doing it."
— Casey Dreier of the Planetary Society to Axios

Winners: Aside from the Artemis program, the budget also provides funding for the development of multiple robotic Mars missions that could pave the way for human exploration of the red planet.

  • Those missions include a 2026 launch of a robotic probe to bring samples back from the Martian surface and a new Mars Ice Mapper that will characterize the planet's ice.
  • The budget also funds the Orion spacecraft and the agency's long-delayed Space Launch System rocket as well as technology needed for a small Gateway space station in lunar orbit.

Losers: The Trump administration is attempting to cancel funding for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which is slated to be the space agency's next flagship astrophysics mission after the James Webb Space Telescope's expected launch in 2021.

  • The budget request also cuts funding for the SOFIA telescope — which flies on a modified Boeing 747 aircraft and observes cosmic objects in infrared light — and would cancel two missions to monitor Earth's climate.
  • The request would also end funding for the agency's STEM Engagement office, instead moving that money toward its exploration goals.

Be smart: It's unlikely the president's budget will get enacted in its current form no matter how friendly to human exploration it is.

  • Congress has reinstated funding for WFIRST and STEM education initiatives when the administration has tried to cancel funding in the past, and this time will likely be no different.

Go Deeper: NASA's difficult road to the Moon

Go deeper

Senate Democrats unveil new income tax for billionaires

Sen. Ron Wyden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday released a billionaires' tax proposal, designed to help support President Biden's social spending and climate change legislation.

Why it matters: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Billionaires Income Tax would raise "hundreds of billions of dollars" and would affect approximately 700 taxpayers who have more than $1 billion in assets or incomes of over $100 million a year.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

3 hours ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.