Over the last two months, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has repeatedly stated that the Agency's ambitious new Artemis plan to send people to the Moon does not require a raid on other areas of their budget, such as being wide range of scientific programs, technology research or aviation.
The reason is simple. The surest way to stifle support for a program within the agency is to get funds from someone else to pay for the new plan, and the surest way to lose support in Congress is to stop the work of to remove various field offices across the country.
] "We can not exploit one part of the agency to feed another part of the agency," Bridenstine told Ars in April, reflecting comments he has often made. "We can not cut off the Science Mission to support human exploration, we can not exploit the International Space Station to support the Moon's mission, so if we go in the directions that were all tried in the past, it never works. " We can not do that again and are upset that it did not work out. "
" Take a few cuts "
But that's what can happen At a NASA Advisory Council meeting on Friday, the agency's high-level space agency described the challenge for a plan to speed up the landing of humans on the moon from the late 2020s to 2024, as Vice President Mike Pence told the agency.
"I do not think we can get the whole budget as new money," said Bill Gerstenmaier of NASA Efficiency improvements and make some cuts within the agency, and then it will be difficult. Anyone can be on board when the future is in sight, and there is an infinite amount of new money coming in. "
Neither Bridenstine nor Gerstenmaier have said how much the accelerated lunar program will be the development of the Rocket Space Launch System who is advancing elements of a Lunar Gateway, building a three-tier Lunar lander and upgrading space suits. would cost. However, sources Ars have indicated that the actual cost of the Artemis program is likely to be between $ 6 and $ 8 billion a year, beyond NASA's $ 20 billion annual budget.
"I know what the new money supply is, but now the question is whether we can find a few other things to increase efficiency," said Gerstenmaier to the Council, chaired by Lester Lyles, a former General of the Air Force, holds. "W We already had a series of discussions in which we discussed what other things we cut or where we can slow down some things to focus on ourselves, we'll even do that within my own. that your thing no longer has priority, it is still a priority, but we need to reset it so that we can achieve these other goals. "
Council meetings generally do not take place aired or recorded, but The media and the general public can overhear via a telephone conference line. Gerstenmaier's remarks were part of a talk on how he wants to keep NASA's budget and space planning within "fiscal realism" and how he does not want to devise lavish plans and then hope that the funding will come about. The extent of Gerstenmaier's utterances and deliberate nature suggests that he has not misjudged the potential for cuts.
"We will not reach a large cap," he told the council on NASA's budget. "We can grow one or two percent, which is significant, but we're not going to put a big, brand-new multi-billion dollar program on us, and we have to do that." We always said that if we had only a compelling, inspiring program, a tipper would give us money, and we would swim in dollars. My entire career, that never happened.
A "Savings" Approach?
After Gerstenmaier's remarks, Ars turned to NASA and asked how this talk of "cuts" should be reconciled with Bridenstein's view that some areas of NASA's In response to this, the agency issued a statement with the following comment on "thrifty approaches" in budget planning:
"The recent budget change has shown that this government is in unprecedented ways Committed to requesting the resources NASA needs to reach the goal of landing on the Moon In 2024, the Congress was also non-partisan in its commitment to the agency's goals. However, as part of prudent budget planning, we must also protect alternative scenarios and consider frugal approaches to make the most of every dollar in the world to sustain the effort to reach our goal. "