US President Donald Trump has announced that he plans to appoint James Bridenstine, a former navy pilot and Republican congressman, to head the US space agency NASA. Bridenstine, who backed Trump during the US presidential campaign, had long been considered the favorite for the job of NASA administrator. The space agency is involved in all aspects of space exploration, as well as in Earth observation missions from space and in the development of new aerospace concepts. Since the end of NASA's space shuttle program in 2011, the United States has had to rely on Russia to ferry their astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA is currently developing a heavy launcher and capsule capable of taking astronauts to Mars in 2030 and beyond.