A senior NASA official said Tuesday that the Space Launch System, a huge heavy-lift rocket years behind schedule, could launch astronauts on a moon landing mission in 2024 on just its third flight to meet a goal announced last month by Vice President Mike Pence, while commercial companies will be entrusted with more responsibility to develop a lunar lander and a modest mini-space station, or Gateway, in lunar orbit.
The White House’s $19.9 billion NASA budget outline released Monday would continue development of NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule and begin the deployment of a mini-space station around the moon as soon as 2022, but the proposal would cancel WFIRST, a flagship-class astronomy mission planned for launch in the mid-2020s.
The Trump administration is proposing to end direct government support of the International Space Station in 2025, but plans to include $150 million in NASA’s fiscal 2019 budget, to be unveiled Monday, to begin work on transitioning, if possible, to a more commercially focused outpost, according to an internal NASA review.
The Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget request includes $19.1 billion for NASA, a $561 million decrease over previously enacted levels that would reduce the number of Earth science missions, eliminate the agency’s education office and do away with the Obama administration’s plans to robotically retrieve a piece of an asteroid as a precursor to eventual flights to Mars.
Expect fewer missions to study planet Earth in NASA’s future, agency officials told an advisory group last week. A blueprint of the Trump administration’s proposed NASA budget would cancel four Earth science missions already in the agency’s portfolio and slash research funding geared toward future projects.
The Trump administration is proposing $19.1 billion for NASA in its fiscal 2018 budget blueprint, a 0.8 percent decrease from 2017 funding levels, focusing on deep space exploration, both human and robotic, and increased public-private partnerships to lower costs and encourage private sector innovation.