NASA’s chief says a proposed $US1.6 billion ($2.3 billion) budget boost is a “good start” towards getting the first woman on the Moon within five years.
- The first manned lunar landing happened almost 50 years ago
- NASA’s next lunar program will be called Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology
- Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, recently announced plans for a lunar landing mission
During a speech at NASA headquarters in Washington, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the additional money, which the White House said on Monday it was seeking from Congress, would cover programs until 2020.
But more funding would be needed in the years ahead to land “the first woman and the next man” at the south pole of the Moon by 2024, NASA said.
NASA is once again turning to Greek mythology for the name of the project.
It is being called Artemis, who was goddess of the hunt and the Moon. She was also the twin sister of Apollo.
Apollo was the name of NASA’s moonshot program that, almost 50 years ago, achieved the first manned lunar landing.
NASA landed 12 men on the Moon over six Apollo missions.
For the next wave of lunar missions, the space agency wants its moonwalkers to reflect today’s astronauts, thus the name of Apollo’s sister.
“I have a daughter, she’s 11 years old, and I want her to see herself in the same position that our current, very diverse astronaut corps currently sees itself, having the opportunity to go to the Moon,” Mr Bridenstine said.
“In the 1960s, young ladies didn’t have the opportunity to see themselves in that role. Today they do.”
The additional funds, if approved by Congress, would be taken from education grants, rather than the International Space Station or other departments within the space agency.
Mr Bridenstine said he had already heard criticism the spending proposal would be “dead on arrival” in Congress because neither NASA nor the administration worked in advance with Congress on it.
As a former congressman from Oklahoma, he said he knew how the process worked, and assured the space agency’s 17,000 employees that would not be the case.
“This is a good out-of-the-gate first start, a very honest proposal from the administration that keeps us all together, moving forward,” he said.
He also plugged NASA’s ongoing Space Launch System mega rocket and Orion spacecraft — both under development — and a proposed outpost in the vicinity of the Moon, called Gateway.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.VIDEO 0:34
The Blue Moon lander is one step in the Amazon CEO’s plan to move heavy industry into space.ABC NEWS
Private sector, other nations to be involved in Artemis project
Last week Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, announced plans from his Blue Origin space company for a lunar lander.
Blue Origin aims to land a robotic ship the size of a small house and capable of carrying four rovers on the Moon using a newly designed rocket engine and souped-up rockets.
It would be followed by a version that could bring people to the Moon along the same timeframe as NASA’s proposed 2024 return, Mr Bezos said.
“This is an incredible vehicle and it’s going to the Moon,” Mr Bezos said, dwarfed by his mock-up of the Blue Moon vehicle at his presentation.
Mr Bezos did not provide details such as launch dates, customers or the plan for humans on his rockets.
He spent more time talking about his dream of future generations living on orbiting space stations and lunar colonies.
Last May, Mr Bezos said human beings would one day leave Earth to explore heavy industry in the solar system.
Blue Origin officials have given conflicting answers about when the company would land on the Moon with and without people.
The Soviet Union conducted the first successful Moon landing in 1966 with Luna 9. The US followed four months later.