If NASA wants to go back to the moon, it’ll need some money. Over a billion dollars of money, in fact. In a recent budget request to Congress, NASA laid out its vision for the future, along with what that vision will cost.
Centred in the budget proposal are NASA’s aims for space exploration over the next decade. The agency has long had ambitions to return to the lunar surface, even beginning plans to build a space station in orbit of the moon to make it easier. However, astronauts don’t want to wait until after that station is constructed to set foot on the moon.
Instead, they’re hoping Congress can hook them up with a 12-figure budget to support a brand-new mission to the moon, which would mirror the original Apollo moon landing missions and be called Artemis (the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology).
While NASA originally hoped to launch in 2028, following completion of the Gateway lunar station, the Trump Administration is now pushing for a ’24 moon landing—hence the additional funding request. In addition, the agency is seeking to partner with commercial organizations like Boeing and SpaceX to provide the tech to make the landing happen.
On the one hand, this timetable seems somewhat rushed, especially considering NASA’s commercial partners have been experiencing delays with their crew capsules lately. These capsules are only designed to ferry astronauts to the space station orbiting Earth, and will likely require extensive upgrades to reach the moon. It’s tough to imagine the tech will be ready in time for 2024.
On the other hand, NASA is historically very good at meeting deadlines … when it has enough money and motivation, of course. So if anyone could pull this off, it would be the scientists and engineers at the agency.
Source: The New York Times
Originally published on Popular Mechanics