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The Trump Administration adds another $ 1.6 billion to NASA's $ 21 billion payment for 2020 to fuel plans to return American astronauts to the Moon in 2024, four Years earlier than previously planned, NASA announced on Monday.
In a surprise announcement, agency administrator Jim Bridenstine said Artemis' revived lunar program is named after the Greek moon goddess.
"The first time humanity went to the moon was under the name of Apollo," he said. "The Apollo program has changed history forever. It turns out that Apollo had a twin sister, Artemis. She is the goddess of the moon. Our astronaut office is very diverse and highly qualified. I think it's great that the Artemis program brings the next man – and the first woman – to the moon 50 years after Apollo.
In an afternoon tweet, President Trump announced the government's request for a supplementary budget and said, "We are restoring the size of @NASA and we return to the moon, then to Mars. I'm updating my budget by an additional $ 1.6 billion so we can get back into space in a BIG way! "
Of course, NASA is already in space on a large scale, as development on board the International Space Station continues from new crew-based ferries to carry US astronauts to and from Earth orbit and ongoing development work a new super rocket – the Space Launch System – and Orion caps for the crew to bring astronauts back to the Moon The Moon space station "Gateway", which is being built in orbit around the Moon, using commercially developed lander and ascent vehicles to serve as a base for possible pilot flights to the surface.
Until recently, however, NASA planned to run this program over a 10-year period, an already difficult timetable providing the first lunar boots in 2028, about 59 years after Neil Armstrong's "Giant Step for Humanity."
But on March 27, Vice President dent Mike Pence, chair of the newly constituted National Space Council, issued NASA with new marching orders during a speech at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center.
"At the behest of the President of the United States, this is the declared government policy and the United States of America to return the American astronauts to the Moon within the next five years," he said. "The first woman and the next man on the moon will be American astronauts fired by American rockets from American soil."
The architecture of the Moon Mission remains intact, but development must be accelerated rapidly to give NASA a chance to meet the ambitious 2024 deadline. And that will cost money.
"This additional investment is a down payment for NASA's efforts to land people on the moon by 2024," Bridenstine told reporters in an evening teleconference. "In the coming years, we will need additional resources. But this is a good amount that gets us out of the gate in a very strong way and prepares us for the future. "
According to a NASA leaflet, the new budget proposal will add $ 1 billion, "to enable NASA to support the development of commercial human lunar landing systems three years ahead of schedule. This acquisition strategy will enable NASA to acquire an integrated commercial lunar module ferry that transports astronauts from the lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back.
The development of the gateway will be limited to what is required to make the station a viable base for travel to the surface. This will free $ 321 million for other lunar issues.
An additional $ 651 million is earmarked for the SLS (Heavy Lift Rocket) spacecraft and Orion spacecraft. Moon surface technologies and propulsion systems would receive an additional $ 132 million and $ 90 million will be spent on researching and researching robots near the Moon's South Pole.
In a YouTube video message to NASA staff, Bridenstine said the additional funding would enable us to move on to design, development and exploration. "
" Among other things, we can accelerate the development of the spacecraft (rocket) and Orion, support the development of a human lunar landing system, and will also support the precursor capabilities on the lunar surface, including enhanced robotic exploration of the polar regions of the moon.
"Although the budgeting and acquisition process is many steps ahead, we should all be very proud and excited about this unique opportunity at NASA," said Bridenstine in the video address. "Our efforts will include new work at NASA centers, to provide the key technologies and scientific payloads required for the gateway and the lunar surface, and to complement the efforts already being made across our country.
"In addition, we plan to build strong commercial partnerships that will help ensure that Boosting innovation and cutting costs for the American taxpayer. "
Additional funding is needed in the supplementary budgets, but no details were immediately available, and some early estimates reached an additional $ 8 billion a year, but Bridenstine insisted that these numbers far exceed the premise tions of NASA. He added, however, that higher amounts will be required in the coming years.
"We're working hard on it," he said. "You know, any development program like this follows a very normal bell curve, where the early years are pretty low and then they go up and then come back for sustainable operation.
"The answer is We expect it to be more than the current $ 1.6 billion in 2020 in the coming years. We all know that, working day after day to figure out those numbers.
Speaking to industry executives and engineers earlier this month, NASA Space Operations Director Bill Gerstenmaier said a critical element to meeting the schedule was the rapid intervention of the Congress.
To bring the astronauts to the moon by the end of 2024, "I honestly need a budget October 1," he said. "Usually we're in an ongoing solution, I need a mechanism to get money, I need the ability to transfer money through accounts, I need the support of Congress to do that."
What "It fits on paper It looks like we could do something," he said, "but I'll tell you it's not easy and not risk-free."
"We see many challenges in that Whether we can get the budget and whether we can sustain it, "said Gerstenmaier." If we spend another wonderful holiday this year, that's the end of the world for us. This is a plan, but we will try to uncover all of these risks and dependencies and then find out if this country is ready to face up to this challenge. "
Gateway modules are launched aboard commercial missiles, while with the mega-boosters SLS, astronauts aboard Orion's capsules are shot near the Moon. The gateway will be equipped at one end with an energy and propulsion module, which will be used to provide solar energy and change orbital parameters to provide access to the entire Moon, not just the equatorial regions explored by the Apollo astronauts were.
NASA is seeking gateway modules from various American aerospace companies and encouraging foreign partners to participate in the Orion program in the spirit of the European Space Agency's participation. ESA provides the critical service module of the Orion capsule, which houses life support, energy and propulsion systems.
Orion astronauts will dock at the Gateway Station, conduct scientific observations, monitor robotic landings on the Moon, and finally board reusable lunar countries and fly to the surface. After their mission, the astronauts fly back to Gateway, where their Orion capsule is waiting to bring them back to Earth.
The general target for astronaut landings is the south pole of the Moon, where ice is present in permanently shaded craters.
Access to ice on the moon is a kind of holy grail, as it can be melted to provide astronauts with water, and can be split into water by solar-powered electrolysis to produce hydrogen and oxygen, which theoretically provide rocket fuel, air, and water ,
The gateway to the surface, however, is a major hurdle given the short time available. In an interview with CBS News on April 9, Bridenstine said one of the toughest hurdles to tackling the 2024 challenge was developing a lander.
"Landing skills will be the most important piece," he said. "Lunar countries are hard to build. They need time, they need money. And we do not have that ability. We did that in the 1960s. There is no other planet on the planet capable of landing on the surface of the moon. And we'll start building that ability right now. This will be unique and impressive, allowing our astronauts to reach the surface of the moon. "
The same day, Bridenstine talked about the challenge of landing on the moon, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos revealed a moon lander named Blue Moon that could bring 6.5 tonnes to the surface of the moon. He said that Blue Moon, with an ascent stage, could meet NASA's schedule for landing astronauts on the surface by 2024.
Bezos said that three years ago, Blue Origin engineers had begun designing the spaceship to provide the company with a ready-made solution to its landing problem.
"I love that," Bezos said about the agency's accelerated plan to return to the moon. "It's the right thing to do, and for those of you who expect it to be at home, that's the year 2024, and we can help you keep that schedule, but only because we started three years ago. It's time to To return to the moon, this time to stay. "
Gerstenmaier said NASA is expecting lander proposals from several companies and hopes the contracts will be available by September or October.