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Big Ask From NASA for Its 2024 Moon Expedition

Agency says it will need between $20B and $30B over the next 5 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2019 12:46 PM CDT
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2024 or bust?   (Getty Images/fergregory)

(Newser) – Back in March, Vice President Mike Pence vowed we'd get to the moon by 2024 by "any means necessary." Now, there's a number that NASA is pinning to "necessary": The agency says it will need between $20 billion and $30 billion over the next five years for its Artemis moon program, Administrator Jim Bridenstine tells CNN Business. The agency's overall budget, which already hovers around $20 billion, would therefore need another $4 billion to $6 billion pumped into it each year until 2024, though this estimate—and Bridenstine warns it's only an estimate, as space travel is an unpredictable industry—has come in lower than some expected. Per SpaceNews.com, there'd been initial speculation the price tag could run closer to $8 billion per year for five years. So far, just a small "down payment," as Bridenstine calls it, of $1.6 billion has been formally requested.

One challenge in getting the rest of the funds will be convincing members of Congress it's a project worth funding—a bit of a climb considering that the rocket and spacecraft that will be used in this mission are already way behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Plus, there's other equipment needed for the trip that NASA doesn't even have yet, and it's not cheap to acquire. Bridenstine says talks within the agency are ongoing, and that once his people come to some consensus on what's needed, "we will of course take that over to the Hill and make sure that our members of Congress are interested and willing to support that effort." Gizmodo notes that without the extra funding, the trip to the moon would likely have to be pushed off till 2028, which was NASA's original target date. (Does Trump still want us to even go to the moon? Signs are unclear.)

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