WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – NASA and President Trump want to land the first woman on the moon by 2024. But if that’s going to happen, Congress needs to approve the money to pay for it.
This next mission to the moon is the first step to get to Mars. But right now, NASA can’t even afford the spacecraft to land on the moon.
The day after NASA unveiled the new spacesuit the first woman to land on the moon will wear, the space agency was asking Congress for the money to get her there.
The President wants to return to the moon by 2024.
“A lot of things have to go right to make that a reality,” said NASA Administrator James Bridenstine.
Bridenstine says 2028 might be a more likely target, which angered Congressman Robert Aderholt of Alabama.
“If NASA is not currently capable of landing American astronauts on the moon in five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission,” said Aderholt.
It could cost an additional $25 billion to accelerate the mission to meet the President’s 2024 target.
“If he came to us and said no wall in return for 2024, you might get a few Democrats to agree with that, right? Maybe more than that,” said U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, (D) New York.
Congressman Serrano worries President Trump would instead divert the money for NASA from food stamps and education programs.
Other lawmakers, like Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger, say Congress can’t afford to get hung up on the cost as the country faces immediate threats in space from China.
“I’ve had classified briefings that would shock any reasonable person and that clearly made case that we must accelerate the Artemis Program”
Bridenstine acknowledged the threats.
“We don’t want to be slow… China is moving fast.”
But Bridenstine says he just can’t guarantee another moon landing by 2024.
NASA has yet to give Congress an exact number for how much the mission will cost, but promised one by February 2020 when the next budget is complete.