No easy ride: NASA's 2024 Mission to the Moon may see a delay, thanks to budgetary cuts
Of the allotted $22.6 billion, NASA will be getting only $600 million to build the Moon lander, which is insufficent, say experts.
NASA's upcoming trip to the Moon, dubbed Artemis, is staring at a setback as it has fallen short of the required budget to take the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024.
The budgetary constraint could delay the 2024 deadline proposed by Vice President Mike Pence in March. The 2020 spending bill of the US government has approved the release of $22.6 billion for their mission. This amount, say experts, will not be enough to cover the money NASA needs to build the Moon lander, a spacecraft that will land future astronomers on the Moon.
NASA had requested funding of $1.4 billion for the moon lander alone, of which only $600 million has been approved by the US government. NASA is feeling the heat as it finds itself in a difficult position. "It's not dead, but it is in critical condition. You can't land on the moon without a lander," space policy expert John Logsdon of George Washington University told BuzzFeed News.
And there is more. NASA has to submit a detailed budget for Artemis to Congress. This will happen only in February. Until then, NASA can only spend 40% of the approved money for a lunar landing and orbiting lunar station.
However, the bill must pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the president. Nothing should be taken for granted, but optimism is the watchword of the day for appropriators and congressional leadership who believe they have the White House’s agreement on this and the other 11 appropriations bills, reports Space policy online.
Even if the 2024 landing does not come to pass, NASA will be building the infrastructure to support moon landings and other deep space missions, Logsdon told Buzzfeed. They may have to divert funding from planned robotic precursor landings on the moon, the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, to steer money toward building an astronaut moon lander in the meantime. "The space agency is trying very hard to follow the direction the vice president gave them. The only real problem is the arbitrariness of the 2024 date," he adds.
And NASA is determined: It has released a video titled 'How we are going to the Moon', in which they break down every detail, describing what goes into taking humans to the Moon again and how it differs from its predecessor, the Apollo Mission.You can watch the video here.