NASA has released a defiant video outlining details of the Artemis moon mission despite the US government giving just half the requested extra budget to get there by 2024.
The agency asked for $1.4 billion to create the lunar lander that would take astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024, but they’ve been given $600 million.
Space Policy Online, a website that monitors funding and government agenda around space, said this could put the 2024 launch date at risk.
In the new video NASA outlines the dozens of stages, parts and processes required to return humans to the lunar surface – including work with commercial partners.
NASA will send the first woman and the next man to walk on the surface of the moon by 2024 if plans proceed as scheduled (artist’s image of astronauts)
NEW ARTEMIS TECHNOLOGIES GOING TO THE MOON
There will be six areas of technology involved in the Artemis missions.
Next generation spacesuit blueprint
- Ground systems on Earth required for launch into space.
- The Space Launch System will allow the crew to leave the atmosphere.
- The Orion spaceship will take the crew to the moon and back.
- The lunar gateway – an outpost of mankind in orbit around the moon.
- Lunar lander – lands on the moon.
- Next generation spacesuits improve astronaut movements on the moon.
NASA asked for the additional budget after Vice President Mike Pence announced plans to reach the moon by 2024 – rather than 2028 as originally planned.
In March, Pence said NASA should aim to accomplish the goal of returning people to the moon by 2024 ‘by any means necessary’.
Despite not getting the full Artemis funding, NASA did get almost all of its $22.6 billion requested budget from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told Congress that if they didn’t receive funding for the lander it would be ‘devastating’ to the mission’s timeline.
‘It’s not dead, but it is in critical condition,’ space policy expert John Logsdon of George Washington University told BuzzFeed News.
‘You can’t land on the moon without a lander.’
The Artemis mission will see the first woman and the next man stand on the surface of our nearest stellar neighbour.
Artemis is named after the goddess of the moon and the twin sister of Apollo in ancient Greek mythology.
NASA says it will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
‘We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration by 2028.
‘Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.’
Long-term NASA supporter Congressman Jose E Serrano said he was ‘extremely’ concerned by the White House inspired push to land people on the moon by 2024.
‘The eyes of the world are upon us. We cannot afford to fail’, said the Democrat who is chairman of the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations subcommittee.
‘Therefore, I believe that it is better to use the original NASA schedule of 2028 in order to have a successful, safe, and cost-effective mission for the benefit of the American people and the world.’
Congress has only allowed NASA 40 per cent of the $600 million it has been allocated until it presents lawmakers with a multi-years Artemis mission plan.
The budget also instructs NASA to use the Space Launch System rockets – which are not yet ready for launch – to build the new lunar gateway space station.
NASA says they will use innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and will land at the South Poles (This artist’s image shows the Space Launch System)
The agency asked for $1.4 billion to create the lunar lander that would take astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 – they’ve been given $600 million (Artist’s impression of the separation stage of the Space Launch System)
The agency had planned to use commercial rocket companies such as SpaceX to launch the parts needed to construct the gateway in orbit around the moon.
When completed the Gateway will be a small space station that will provide access to more of the lunar surface than ever before.
It will have living quarters for astronauts, a lab for science and research, ports for visiting spacecraft, and more, according to NASA.
Artemis will be the second major run of missions to the moon operated by the American space agency.
The Apollo missions ran between 1968 and 1972 and saw NASA launch nine human missions to the moon. Six touched down allowing 12 men to walk on the surface.
The first man to walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong who uttered the now infamous words ‘that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’.
Eventually astronauts will dock with a new lunar gateway space station – shown here in an artist’s impression – that will be in orbit around the moon and contain a lab as well as crew quarters
At the end of its mission the Orion space craft will deploy parachutes and return the astronauts safely back to the Earth as seen in this graphic from NASA
Artemis is much more complex than the Apollo missions as it is a public-private partnership, has multiple layers and uses more robotics than the earlier flights.
For example, when the astronauts arrive on the moon all the equipment and tools they need to carry out experiments and surveys will have already been delivered.
That process and those deliveries will be completely automated and some will be provided by private companies working on behalf of NASA.
Future missions will launch from Earth, stop at the orbiting gateway space station, then leave on a docked lunar lander for the surface of the moon.
The station will also be able to be used for closer observations of the natural satellite by visiting scientists without them having to land on the surface.
Artemis missions will launch for the moon on the Space Launch System, the largest rockets ever created.
The crew will be on board a smaller spacecraft called ‘Orion’ that will fly to the moon in ‘a couple of days’, according to NASA.
The earliest mission will see NASA land astronauts on the lunar south pole by 2024, as seen in this timeline. The first uncrewed test flight will launch in 2020
The Orion spacecraft will be able to fly astronauts to the moon, stay in orbit while they explore the surface or dock with the new Lunar Gateway space station (artist impression)
NASA said that while Apollo placed the first steps on the Moon, Artemis opens the door for humanity to sustainably work and live on another world for the first time.
‘Using the lunar surface as a proving ground for living on Mars, this next chapter in exploration will forever establish our presence in the stars.’
Future missions could also see it used by other space agencies. ESA confirmed it would be sending crewed missions to the moon within the next decade.
NASA is determined it will make the 2024 date for the first crewed mission to the lunar surface, with follow up missions at regular intervals after that.
The aim for the entire mission is to create sustainable and reusable systems that will allow for cheaper and more regular flights to the moon.
‘Everything we are doing, is in preparation to go beyond!’, said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Twitter.
‘With Artemis we will establish a sustainable presence on and around the Moon, while laying the groundwork for complex missions to Mars. We are going.’
The first uncrewed flight of the Orion spacecraft is due to launch in 2020.
WHAT IS NASA’S ARTEMIS MISSION TO THE MOON?
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology.
NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the Moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 – including the first woman and the next man.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.
During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.
It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission
Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.
With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars.
The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.
The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons.
Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.
Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.
The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.