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article imageNASA requests $1.6 billion for upcoming Artemis Mission

By Karen Graham     May 14, 2019 in Science
Washington - NASA’s ambitious plan to put the first woman on the surface of the Moon by 2024 is now officially named Artemis, after the Greek goddess of the Moon and twin sister of the god Apollo. NASA also needs some money, about $1.6 billion.
It has been nearly 50 years since NASA's Apollo program sent the first men to the moon, but with NASA's new focus on putting a woman on the moon, it is only fitting that the mission bear Apollo's twin sister's name, Artemis.
“I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and the first woman to the Moon,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, according to the Verge. “I have a daughter who is 11 years old, and I want her to be able to see herself in the same role as the next women that go to the Moon.”
NASA made the big announcement of the mission name on Monday, May 13 at the same time the space agency presented an updated budget request to the US Congress, asking for an additional $1.6 billion in funding for the 2024 Artemis Mission.
NASA already had plans to return to the moon by 2028, however, in March this year, Vice-president Mike Pence announced the Trump administration wanted to push those plans to 2024. This way, the mission would line up with a possible second term for President Trump, reports ZME Science.
And while the ball is now firmly in Congress's court, it will be the country's lawmakers that will decide whether or not to back up the new timeline. Not only that, but NASA’s original budget for the 2019 fiscal year (which ends on Sept. 30) is $21.5 billion strong.
Trump's original budget request for 2020 aimed to cut the NASA budget by $500 million, but if Congress goes ahead and OK's NASA's request for additional funding, this will effectively increase NASA’s 2020 budget by $1.6 billion. Even then, it is still not clear if NASA will even be close to being ready for a moon launch by 2024.
This illustration shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 cargo configuration. In pl...
This illustration shows NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) in the Block 1 cargo configuration. In place of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, there is a fairing to protect cargo, or payloads, during launch.
The money is just one hurdle
In April, Digital Journal reported that hundreds of companies, ranging from aerospace giants to the most specialized of sub-contractors, are waiting for word from NASA on a timetable for the new moon mission. And it is going to take far more than $1.6 billion to develop and/or manufacture everything needed for the mission.
Bridenstine says NASA needs the extra $1.6 billion to pay for the new ground and space vehicles needed to carry out the mission on its revised schedule. Then, there is the $651 million earmarked for the Space Launch System (SLS), the new large rocket NASA is developing, and the Orion capsule that would take astronauts to the moon.
Boeing, the SLS's prime contractor, is years behind and isn't certain it will be ready for its first test flight, without humans, in 2020. The Orion capsule, being built by competitor Lockheed Martin, should be ready, said program manager Michael Hawes and it will be delivered in January to the Kennedy Space Center.
The one billion dollars left over will be used to pay for the development of a commercial landing system to help take astronauts to the moon’s surface. This also means NASA will be scaling back and delaying its Gateway project, an outpost to orbit the moon, so as not to take funds from the Artemis mission.
Leto with the infants Apollo and Artemis  by Francesco Pozzi (1824) in the Sculpture Gallery  Chatsw...
Leto with the infants Apollo and Artemis, by Francesco Pozzi (1824) in the Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth House - Derbyshire, England.
Bridenstine is calling the current request a “down payment.” When asked how much the new mission would cost in total, he quipped to a reporter: “I would love to tell you that.”
Perhaps even more troubling is the new deadline set by the Trump administration. There is one thing any scientist worth his salt will tell you, and that is you can't rush into a mission simply to please someone's ego. Spacefaring isn’t exactly something you want to rush.
About the only thing set for sure is the mission's name, and it is pretty cool. Artemis and her twin brother Apollo are the children of Zeus and Leto. Artemis was the patron and protector of young girls and was believed to bring disease upon women and relieve them of it. Artemis was worshipped as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery along with Eileithyia.
More about NASA, Moon mission, Artemis, $16 billion, revised deadline
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