Lawmakers propose return trip to the moon, permanent base on planet

Returning to the moon is a personal issue for Posey — he worked on the Apollo program at the Kennedy Space Center, and was laid off by NASA when that program ended. The last moon landing was made by the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, 40 years ago last December.

"In order to explore deeper into space — to Mars and beyond — a moon presence offers us the ability to develop and test technologies to cope with the realities of operating on an extraterrestrial surface," Posey said Wednesday.

Posey added that so far, a dozen Americans have explored a section of the moon smaller than the National Mall in Washington, D.C. He said there are still minerals, ice deposits and other national resources that could be used to sustain an outpost.

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Posey introduced a similar bill in the last Congress, which said the goal of the moon base would be to "promote exploration, commerce, science, and United States preeminence in space as a stepping stone for the future exploration of Mars and other destinations."

While technology was seen as a major hurdle to the first moon landing in 1969, money is likely to be a major hurdle to any return trip. In the 1960s, NASA's budget was a much larger percentage of the federal budget than it is today.

And in terms of real purchasing power, NASA's budget is a little more than half of the budget levels in the 1960s when NASA was preparing to land on the moon.

NASA's budgets have hovered around $17 billion or $18 billion for the last few years. During a time of intense budgetary pressures, it's not clear that Congress could find the money to put NASA on a path to another moon shot, let alone creating a permanent moon base.

Posey's bill from the 112th Congress said NASA's budget would have to be "consistent" with achieving the goal of another moon landing, but did not propose specific numbers.

This year, Posey's bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Robert AderholtRobert AderholtHouse panel approves agriculture, energy spending bills GOP scrambles for response to Obama's gun control actions Lawmakers press for Christians to be included in ISIS genocide designation MORE (R-Ala.), Rob BishopRob BishopWeek ahead: Wait drags on for energy talks Interior ‘strongly opposes’ bill to disarm federal land law enforcement Overnight Energy: GOP chairman ramps up fight with states over Exxon MORE (R-Utah), John Culberson (R-Texas), Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson-LeeDems sustain protest as GOP angles to start recess early House erupts as GOP tries to halt Dems' sit-in House caucus to focus on business in Latin America MORE (D-Texas), Pete Olson (R-Texas), Ted PoeTed PoeCameras go dark during House Democrats' sit-in Democrats stage sit-in on House floor to push for gun vote Congress should stop government hacking and protect the Fourth Amendment MORE (R-Texas), Steve StockmanSteve StockmanCruz will skip State of the Union Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts Lawmakers deny knowledge of secret funding for 2013 trip MORE (R-Texas) and Frank WolfFrank WolfLobbying World Overnight Regulation: Supreme Court rejects GOP redistricting challenge Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to Va. redistricting plan MORE (R-Va.).

— This story was updated at 9:32 a.m.

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