On Tuesday local time, the U.S. Senate funding agency proposed to allocate $1 billion to NASA next year to build a new spacecraft to send humans to the surface of the moon. But that's about $2.4 billion less than NASA has applied for, and the shortage could delay NASA's ambitious plan to launch its first female astronaut to the moon in 2024.
On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee announced 12 appropriations bills for the U.S. government for next year. The new bill will allocate $23.5 billion to NASA, an increase from last year's NASA budget, but $1.75 billion less than the $25.2 billion the U.S. government has requested.
The U.S. government has been calling for increased funding for NASA over the next five years to help the agency complete its Artemis lunar landing program to send the first female astronaut and another male astronaut to the surface of the moon.NASA initially planned to land on the moon in 2028, but the U.S. government asked for an advance to 2024. NASA has made it clear that in order to meet the required deadline, a substantial increase in the budget is necessary, especially for the new manned lunar landing system.
In April, NASA awarded contracts to SpaceX, blue origin and dynetics to develop lunar vehicles. The initial investment was not large, and the three companies received a total of $967 million. In order to promote the research and development of the lunar spacecraft to accelerate.According to NASA budget request, the U.S. government has asked Congress to provide nearly $3.4 billion in 2021 for the on the moon.Finally, NASA plans to select two of the three companies to build a lunar spacecraft for the Artemis Project, and a final decision will be made early next year.
However, the United States Congress does not seem willing to meet the full amount NASA is asking for. In July, the House of Representatives announced its 2021 funding proposal, providing only $628.2 million for the deep development of the lunar spacecraft. NASA Director Jim Brittenstein (Jim Bridenstine) made it clear at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in September that the money simply did not guarantee NASA completion of the task by the 2024 deadline.
"I want to be clear that we are very grateful for that," bridenstein said. "But I also want to tell you that this is not enough to achieve the moon landing in 2024. I'm very happy with what they've done, which shows the strong bipartisan support for the moon landing program. But the longer the project goes on, the more I worry about its risks. " NASA has yet to make a statement on the bill announced by the U.S. Senate today.
The actual government budget has not yet been finalized. But now that both the house and the Senate have announced their budget proposals, it's likely that NASA will eventually get between $600 million and $1 billion to develop a lunar spacecraft. The two companies that won the bid are likely to spend their own money to accelerate the research and development of the lunar spacecraft, with a view to achieving the lunar landing of astronauts by 2024. But even with more money, the 2024 deadline for landing on the moon is considered difficult.
If Biden takes office as president of the United States, the mission will also face more uncertainties. The Biden team has not released any details about its space policy, and the fate of the Artemis Project under Biden's leadership is uncertain. meanwhileBridenstein said he did not intend to continue as NASA director in Biden's administration, even if asked to remain in office.
Despite the uncertainty of the future, NASA seems likely to get some money next year to build a lunar spacecraft, only a little less than it had hoped. (Chen Chen)