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article imageCongress dismisses NASA's Artemis project in draft funding bill

By Karen Graham     May 17, 2019 in Technology
The House Appropriations Committee is proposing $22.32 billion for NASA in FY2020. But it falls short of the amended request that adds $1.6 billion for the Artemis Moon 2024 program. In fact, it was not even mentioned.
On Monday, after announcing its moon mission's new name, NASA also presented an updated budget request to the US Congress, asking for an additional $1.6 billion in funding for the 2024 Artemis Mission.
However, the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) decided not to set aside the additional $1.6 billion asked for by the space agency, even though the committee had set aside a total of $22.32 billion, nearly $1.3 billion more than NASA had requested.
Most of the increase is allocated for the development of NASA’ Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, while broader exploration efforts and plans for a Lunar Gateway will receive less funding, according to Futurism.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (L) -- seen here at the US space agency's headquarters in No...
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (L) -- seen here at the US space agency's headquarters in November 2018 -- says the acceleration of the calendar for a new Moon mission is "aggressive" but doable, and vital for any future Mars mission
Brendan Smialowski, AFP/File
Remember that in March this year, Vice-president Mike Pence announced the Trump administration wanted to push the moon mission plans to 2024 instead of 2028, which is what NASA had originally planned. This way, the mission would line up with a possible second term for President Trump, reports ZME Science.
The HAC Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee's former chairman was John Culberson. He lost his re-election bid and the Republicans lost their majority in the House of Representatives. Culberson believed the NASA budget should have a strong focus on science.
For this reason, even though the House is under Democratic control, the draft bill allocates $7.161 billion for science, a $255.6 million increase over its FY2019 funding level of $6.906 billion, in line with Culberson's initiative. It could be that the additional funding for Artemis came in too late to be included in this draft bill.
“I am going to reserve judgment on the overall moon landing plan until Congress is provided with more concrete information on the proposed lunar initiative,” Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said in a statement.
This NASA image from February 7  2018  shows an artist concept image of the next generation of NASA&...
This NASA image from February 7, 2018, shows an artist concept image of the next generation of NASA's Space Launch System
NASA awards 45.5 million for Artemis contracts
After asking for additional funding on Monday, NASA wasted no time in granting a total of $45.5 million to 11 U.S. companies, including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, to help them develop spacecraft that can get astronauts to the lunar surface.
The money is awarded through NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program. Each company must contribute at least 20 percent of its total project costs, agency officials said.
NASA's proposed plan is to transport astronauts in a human landing system that includes a transfer element for the journey from the lunar Gateway to low-lunar orbit, a descent element to carry them to the surface of the moon and an ascent element to return them to the Gateway. The agency also is looking at refueling capabilities to make these systems reusable.
"To accelerate our return to the moon, we are challenging our traditional ways of doing business. We will streamline everything from procurement to partnerships to hardware development and even operations," Marshall Smith, director for human lunar-exploration programs at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in a statement on Thursday.
More about NASA budget, artemis project, 'Artemis project, private moon lander
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