NASA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has released a brief snapshot of the costs associated with the Artemis space agency’s program to land astronauts on the moon. According to the infographic, the total projected cost through the fiscal year 2021 to 2025 is $ 85.7 billion.
The Office of the Inspector General said about $ 35 billion of that cost has already been spent on elements like Orion, the Space Launch System (SLS) and Earth Research Systems (EEC), but that about $ 50.5 billion will need to be planned for the next five years. to facilitate the program.
However, whether the five-year timeframe is still achievable is debatable.
According to the allocation for the fiscal year 2021, NASA has been allocated a congressional budget of 23.3 billion dollars – an increase of 3 percent compared to the amount from the previous year.
Although Congress has provided nearly $ 1 billion more than requested for NASA’s Directorate of Science Mission, Congress has provided only $ 850 million to work on three human landing system projects currently supported by NASA, slightly less than the required 3.37 billion USD.
The human landing system (HLS) is an integral part of the Artemis program, but so far the least developed.
“The only thing we need is a human landing system,” Bridenstine said in an interview with Spaceflight Now last month. “We have compiled a large budget necessary to achieve that system of human landing. We asked for $ 3.3 billion, and Congress funded $ 850 million in a very bipartisan account. ”
Without a full lunar landing budget, “NASA will have to make an assessment and decide whether 2024 will be achievable or not,” Bridenstein said before resigning as NASA administrator in January.
This feeling was recently repeated by the new Biden administration when the White House confirmed last week that Artemis would continue.
“Moon exploration has broad and bicameral support in Congress, and was recently explained in detail in the 2021 space treasury bill,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psak said at a February 4 briefing. “Certainly, we support this effort and effort.”
Despite widespread support for the plan to return humans to the Moon and further to Mars, Psaki gave no indication that the 2024 goals set by the Trump administration would be met.
NASA’s goal of returning U.S. astronauts to the lunar surface has been moved to 2024 by then-Vice President Pence, who in 2019 instructed the agency to accelerate their plans by four years to a date that would coincide with the last second of Trump’s term if he won the re- choice; a deadline that many considered unattainable.
With Biden in power now, and the budget unlikely to support a lunar return in 2024, the agency’s initial target for landing on the Moon in 2028 could return to charts.