Jeff Bezos wants to return humans to the moon
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NASA’s planned 2024 moon mission will be called Artemis, after a Greek goddess of the moon and twin sister of Apollo. US president Donald Trump has announced an additional $1.6 billion in funding to kickstart the mission.
The budget, which is for the financial year 2020, includes $1 billion for the development of a commercial lunar lander, which NASA would purchase from a private company. Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander, unveiled on 9 May, could be one option.
Most of the remaining money will go towards NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, which are intended to carry crew members to the moon-orbiting Lunar Gateway from which the lander will bring them to the surface. Officials say this will include the first woman on the moon.
The Gateway itself has had its budget cut back by about $300 million, some of which will go towards exploring the south pole of the moon with robots before landing humans there.
Congress still has to approve the budget request, and the approval will depend on where the money will come from — it will likely be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, such as cutting the budget available for university grants. Even then, some experts question whether it will be enough funding to get humans to the moon in 2024.
“This additional investment, I want to be clear, is a down payment on NASA’s efforts to land humans on the moon by 2024,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a press call on 13 May. “In the coming years we will need additional funds, but this is a good amount that gets us out of the gate in a very strong fashion, and sets us up for success in the future.”
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