NASA publishes Artemis plan to land first woman, next man on moon
NASA published its Artemis plan on Monday aimed at landing the first woman and next man on the surface of the moon by 2024.
The total phase one funding for the plan for U.S. astronauts to return to lunar service for the first time since 1972 is nearly $28 billion, according to NASA’s 74-page plan.
“With bipartisan support from Congress, our 21st century push to the Moon is well within America’s reach,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “As we’ve solidified more of our exploration plans in recent months, we’ve continued to refine our budget and architecture.”
He said the mission back to the moon is for scientific discovery, economic benefits and to inspire a new “generation of explorers.”
The total $27.9 billion phase one cost is tallied up from funding spread over five years. Most of the costs, about $16 billion, is set for the initial human landing system, according to NASA’s plan.
The plan includes launching the new Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft on two test flights around the moon to gauge performance. NASA will then launch a mission without astronauts in 2021, and a second with a crew in 2023.
In 2024, the agency plans to send astronauts on the mission with the goal of landing on the moon’s surface. The astronauts will collect samples and conduct a range of experiments over the course of nearly seven days before returning to Earth, according to NASA’s plan.
The plan is contingent on Congress approving $3.2 billion for building a landing system, according to Bridenstine.
“The budget request that we have before the House and the Senate right now includes $3.2 billion for 2021 for the human landing system. It is critically important that we get that $3.2 billion,” Bridenstine told the BBC.
The House has passed a bill allocating $600 million towards the lunar lander, but NASA will need the additional funds, he said.
“I want to be clear: We are exceptionally grateful to the House of Representatives that, in a bipartisan way, they have determined that funding a human landing system is important — that’s what that $600 million represents. It is also true that we are asking for the full $3.2 billion,” Bridenstine told the BBC.