NASA on Monday revealed its latest plan to return astronauts to the Moon in 2024, and estimated the cost of meeting that deadline at $28 billion (roughly Rs. 2,05,787 crores), $16 billion (roughly Rs. 1,17,592 crores) of which would be spent on the lunar landing module.
Congress, which faces elections on November 3, will have to sign off on the financing for a project that has been set by President Donald Trump as a top priority. The $28 billion (roughly Rs. 2,05,787 crores) would cover the budgetary years of 2021-25.
In a phone briefing with journalists Monday on the Artemis mission to return human beings to the Moon, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine noted that “political risks” were often the biggest threat to NASA’s work, especially before such a crucial election.
Barack Obama cancelled plans for a manned Mars mission, after his predecessor spent billions of dollars on the project.
If Congress approves the first tranche of $3.2 billion (roughly Rs. 23,515 crores) by Christmas, “we’re still on track for a 2024 moon landing,” Bridenstine said.
“To be clear, we’re going to the South Pole,” he said, ruling out the sites of the Apollolandings on the Moon’s equator between 1969 and 1972. “There’s no discussion of anything other than that.”
Three different projects are in competition to build the lunar lander that will carry two astronauts, one of them a woman, to the Moon from their vessel Orion.
The first one is being developed by Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. The other two projects are being undertaken by Elon Musk’s SpaceXand by the company Dynetics.