NASA, which intends to send the first woman to the moon by 2024, is a race not only against time but also against the budget. US space agency chief administrator Jim Bridenstine stressed that without an increase in government funding, it would be difficult to meet the deadline for implementing the Artemis program. Exactly 50 years after Apollo 11, which brought man to the Earth for the first time, the United States still seems far from being able to repeat the feat due to various shortcomings, including that of a lunar lander.
NASA, insufficient budget to return to the moon in 2024
It was the Trump administration that had urged NASA to speed up the Artemis program, initially set for 2028. In order to meet the new 2024 deadline, the space agency had requested the US government to make an initial budget increase of 1, $ 6 billion, a grant that would still not be enough to finance future missions, however. Speaking before the Senate Committee on Trade, Science and Transport, Bridenstine explained that the United States has currently lacked a lunar lander “since 1972, the last time we landed on the surface of our satellite. We have to develop it and right now we don’t have enough money to do it. ”
The phases of NASA’s Artemis program
Waiting to understand whether the US government will respond positively to the latest requests, NASA has already started taking concrete steps to be able to return to the Moon with the Artemis program. The space agency has already selected the first company that will collaborate in the realization of the Lunar Gateway: in fact, the engine of the lunar outpost will arrive from Maxar Technologies, a fundamental support point for astronauts before landing on the satellite. The first phase Artemis 1 involves the construction of the launcher that will bring the Orion capsule into orbit, which should fly first unmanned in 2021 and then with astronauts on board between 2022 and 2023 during the Artemis 2 phase. Finally, NASA plans to complete the construction of the Lunar Gateway and the lunar lander during Artemis 3, the final step that would precede the journey of the astronauts to the moon. All this, of course, as long as the funds granted allow it.