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Trump seeks new ‘down payment’ for moon mission

Trump seeks new ‘down payment’ for moon mission

The White House is requesting an additional $1.6 billion “down payment” for next year to help finance its ambitious new goal of returning American astronauts to the moon in 2024. But it declined to reveal where the money will come from.
The budget amendment, sent to Capitol Hill Monday night, is in addition to the $21 billion already requested by NASA for the fiscal year that begins in October.
“We’ve been given a very bold charge to land the first man and next woman on the lunar south pole by 2024 followed by a sustained presence on and around the moon by 2028,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters.
Yet the NASA chief could not provide an estimate of what the effort will cost over the next five years, nor did he explain what government programs will have to be cut to finance the boost to NASA.
He did stress, however, that the additional funding would not come at the expense of NASA’s science missions, which have been fiercely protected by lawmakers in the past.
“As far as where the money is coming from, that is above my pay grade,” Bridestine said. ” … I have not been formally briefed and no one has told me. My focus has been on what NASA needs.”
President Donald Trump heralded the funding boost on Twitter, saying his administration is “restoring @NASA to greatness.”
“We are going back to the Moon, then Mars,” he tweeted. “I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”
It’s now up to Congress, where there are serious concerns with the 2024 goal, which is four years ahead of the previous schedule.
“I’m skeptical that any Congress (R or D controlled) will add billions of taxpayer dollars for a moon program,” Phil Larson, a former senior space adviser in the Obama White House, said via email, citing concern the administration is “pushing risky political timelines that could set NASA back for years.”
Bridenstine on Monday urged Congress to give the moon mission bipartisan support now to protect it regardless of who wins the presidency in 2020.
The additional funding request includes $1 billion to begin developing a landing system to put humans on the lunar surface, as well as $651 million to speed up two other programs: the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion space capsule.
Also included is $132 million for future technologies like solar electric propulsion and to convert polar ice to water that could be used for rocket fuel to explore deeper into the solar system. And $90 million would go for robotic exploration of the moon’s polar regions.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the 2024 goal in March. “Some will say it’s too hard, it’s too risky, it’s too expensive, but the same was said back in 1962,” Pence said in Huntsville, Ala., at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, referring to the year President John F. Kennedy gave his “we choose to go to the moon” speech.
“Now as then, the United States has a president who is a dreamer, who understands that this is a challenge that once again we are unwilling to postpone and one we intend to win again,” Pence added.
The White House is requesting an additional $1.6 billion “down payment” for next year to help finance its ambitious new goal of returning American astronauts to the moon in 2024. But it declined to reveal where the money will come from.
The budget amendment, sent to Capitol Hill Monday night, is in addition to the $21 billion already requested by NASA for the fiscal year that begins in October.
“We’ve been given a very bold charge to land the first man and next woman on the lunar south pole by 2024 followed by a sustained presence on and around the moon by 2028,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters.
Yet the NASA chief could not provide an estimate of what the effort will cost over the next five years, nor did he explain what government programs will have to be cut to finance the boost to NASA.
He did stress, however, that the additional funding would not come at the expense of NASA’s science missions, which have been fiercely protected by lawmakers in the past.
“As far as where the money is coming from, that is above my pay grade,” Bridestine said. ” … I have not been formally briefed and no one has told me. My focus has been on what NASA needs.”
President Donald Trump heralded the funding boost on Twitter, saying his administration is “restoring @NASA to greatness.”
“We are going back to the Moon, then Mars,” he tweeted. “I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”
It’s now up to Congress, where there are serious concerns with the 2024 goal, which is four years ahead of the previous schedule.
“I’m skeptical that any Congress (R or D controlled) will add billions of taxpayer dollars for a moon program,” Phil Larson, a former senior space adviser in the Obama White House, said via email, citing concern the administration is “pushing risky political timelines that could set NASA back for years.”
Bridenstine on Monday urged Congress to give the moon mission bipartisan support now to protect it regardless of who wins the presidency in 2020.
The additional funding request includes $1 billion to begin developing a landing system to put humans on the lunar surface, as well as $651 million to speed up two other programs: the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion space capsule.
Also included is $132 million for future technologies like solar electric propulsion and to convert polar ice to water that could be used for rocket fuel to explore deeper into the solar system. And $90 million would go for robotic exploration of the moon’s polar regions.
Vice President Mike Pence announced the 2024 goal in March. “Some will say it’s too hard, it’s too risky, it’s too expensive, but the same was said back in 1962,” Pence said in Huntsville, Ala., at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, referring to the year President John F. Kennedy gave his “we choose to go to the moon” speech.
“Now as then, the United States has a president who is a dreamer, who understands that this is a challenge that once again we are unwilling to postpone and one we intend to win again,” Pence added.