Members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a bipartisan bill that authorizes $19.5 billion in an effort to pursue a mission to Mars and sending astronauts to the International Space Station using private rockets.

Under the Senate bill, a mission to mars would be the first ever to be required by law. The measure has been sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz, Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Gary Peters, and Tom Udall. Around $4.5 billion will be for exploration, $5.4 billion for science, and $5 billion for space operations.

the $19.5 billion is authorized for fiscal 2017 under the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016. The Obama administration has proposed spending $19 on NASA. The money would allow NASA to work on the Space Launch System, the Orion multipurpose vehicle, development of space suits for Mars, upgrade the space station for use through 2028, improve opportunities for the private sector, and a scheduled 2018 unmanned trip to mars with a manned mission by 2021.