NASA officials released a nearly five-year, $28 billion plan Monday to return astronauts to the surface of the moon before the end of 2024, but the agency’s administrator said the “aggressive” timeline set by the Trump administration last year hinges on Congress approving $3.2 billion in the next few months to kick-start development of new human-rated lunar landers.
The Trump administration is requesting $25.2 billion for NASA in fiscal 2021, a 12 percent increase that includes $3.3 billion to kickstart development of a human-rated lander for the Artemis moon program. Nearly half of the budget request, $12.3 billion, is devoted to new and ongoing projects focused on the return to the moon and eventual flights to Mars.
European Space Agency member states on Thursday committed nearly 12.5 billion euros ($13.8 billion) to fund ESA programs over the next three years, promising money to grow Europe’s fleet of satellites studying Earth’s changing climate, contribute to NASA-led lunar exploration efforts, and continue ESA’s participation in the International Space Station until 2030.
With lingering uncertainly about when new commercial crew spaceships will be ready to launch humans, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Thursday the space agency will replace a Japanese astronaut with a U.S. space flier on the next Russian Soyuz launch to the International Space Station. He added that it remains in NASA’s interests to pay Russia for one or more additional Soyuz seats next year to ensure the station remains continuously staffed with at least one American.
Speaking with Spaceflight Now on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress this week, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine offered his assessment on the status of a budget battle to secure funding for the agency’s Artemis program, which seeks to achieve the next human landing on the moon by the end of 2024.