The plan to bring humans to the moon four years earlier than expected is taking shape in the eyes of NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, and he is pretty sure that is feasible.
Initially, the agency will launch two Orion spacecraft – one with humans and one without – around the moon on the back of the government's heavy rocket launcher until 2023. Then the agency plans to avail the help of a trading company Parts of a space station to 2024 in the orbit of the moon to hurl. Officials are mixing the government's missile manifesto to use its last flight in 2024 to send people to this lunar station, rather than to a probe to Jupiter's moon, Europe.
And while all this is being done, NASA is developing a human lunar lander to bring astronauts to the surface from the lunar station, the so-called Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway.
That's a lot to do in five years. The problem, however, is above all the money.
"We had strong mutual support and we had strong budget inquiries in the past," Bridenstine said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle on Saturday. "But this is another level of support, so we'll find out."
Bridenstine attended Rice University Saturday at the Owls in Space Symposium.
Under the direction of President Donald Trump, NASA's plan was to bring humans back to the moon in 2028. But last month, Vice President Mike Pence told the agency to accelerate the timetable to "all necessary funds" in 2024.
This announcement sparked cynicism, especially since the President's recent budget request called for a $ 500 million cut in the agency next year. And that would not be enough, of course.
NASA is working on a budget that will enable faster operations without sacrificing security. Bridenstine said he would provide this budget to Congress in late April or early May.
He is not sure how much money is needed, but hopes that the motion will ask Congress for multi-year funding for the lunar programs. Moods and changing support will not jeopardize the 2024 plan by eliminating the necessary money.
"Year over year financing is risky," he said. "This would reduce the risk."
Also at risk is the danger of heavy rockets endangering the moon in 2024. Boeing's Space Launch System rocket was due to launch Orion in 201
However, it remained behind schedule, and Boeing recently told NASA that it was not possible to set the June 2020 launch date, which would send Orion around the moon without crew.
That would not be the case, especially after Pence's ruling: the agency examined whether it would be better to launch Orion with a commercial rocket – and she found a viable option – but NASA decided that they would Starting period still will not comply.  Bridenstine said agency representatives have found a way to accelerate the first SLS launch, leaving only six months behind schedule, but the agency is developing a commercial backup plan in the event that SLS continues Has problems.
The agency needs another SLS – or a similar y powered machine – to send the first Orion with crew to the Moon by 2023 and 2024 by a third to the Gateway. The Europa Clipper, who was supposed to take a trip to Jupiter's moon on the third SLS, would then have a commercial missile.
"This is something we should think about for a second or third attempt should continue to be challenged [the Space Launch System rocket]," Bridenstine said Saturday the Houston Chronicle. "If we think about 2023/2024, we have another way to put the pieces together now, if we want, and we're going through that process."
Bridenstine said the agency is already working on a lunar landing pilot to bring people to the surface. It will still be necessary to find a commercial company by 2024 to place the elements of the gateway in the orbit of the moon.
Alex Stuckey writes about NASA and science for the Houston Chronicle. You can reach them at email@example.com or on Twitter.com/alexdstuckey.