Will the next moon landing be delayed? Proposed House bill wants NASA to push the launch to 2028 instead of 2024, allowing for a larger focus on the Mars mission in 2033
- The House proposed NASA change the moon landing from 2024 to 2028
- They want NASA to put a larger focus on getting humans to Mars by 2033
- NASA officials are concerned and want to use the moon to develop more skills
- The bill also wants NASA to take full ownership of the lunar lander
NASA has been fast tracking its efforts to get the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024, but a new proposed House bill could put a damper on its timeline.
The House Committee on Science, Space & Technology introduced a bill last week that suggest the American space agency target 2028, in order to focus on the mission to Mars in 2033.
The bill also urges NASA to have ‘full ownership’ of the lunar lander, rather than partnering with other companies to construct the craft.
However, NASA officials are concerned that ‘the bill imposes some significant constraints on our approach to lunar exploration’, as the moon landing will act as a stepping stone and allow astronauts to develop the necessary skills before heading to the Red Planet.
The bill, designated H.R. 5666 and introduced by Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), chair of the committee’s space subcommittee refers ‘Moon to Mars Program’ and sets the timeline for 2028 – which was the original launch date to the moon.
The House Committee on Science, Space & Technology introduced a bill last week that suggest NASA targets 2028 for the moon landing (artist impression), in order to focus on the mission to Mars in 2033.
However, in March of last year, Vice President Mike Pence said NASA should aim to accomplish the goal of returning people to the moon by 2024 ‘by any means necessary’.
And that is what the American space agency set out to do, but the new bill could throw a wrench in the plans.
‘The nation’s human space exploration goal should be to send humans to the surface of Mars,’ reads a statement from the 102-page document.
‘Reducing the risk and demonstrating the capabilities and operations needed to support a human mission to Mars may require human exploration of the cislunar vicinity and lunar surface,’ the document adds.
However, NASA administrator, Jim Bridensteine has some reservations about the new proposal.
However, NASA officials are concerned that ‘the bill imposes some significant constraints on our approach to lunar exploration’, as the moon landing (artist impression) will act as a stepping stone and allow astronauts to develop the necessary skills before heading to the Red Planet
‘NASA is fully committed to a lunar exploration program that supports and enables human missions to Mars,’ he wrote in a statement.
‘If we are going to accomplish this goal, we will need the flexibility to rapidly develop technical expertise using the Moon and to fully engage commercial and international partners.’
‘We do think that the bill’s concerns for limiting activities on the Moon could be counterproductive.’
‘If we are going to explore Mars in a safe and sustainable way, we will require a strong in situ resource utilization capability and significant technology development using the surface of the Moon. NASA would appreciate more flexibility in defining lunar surface activities that may contribute directly to Mars exploration.’
He also expressed concern about NASA being required to have full ownership of the rocket that will take astronauts to the moon.
‘We are concerned that the bill’s approach to developing a human lander system as fully government-owned and directed would be ineffective, he explained.
‘The approach established by the bill would inhibit our ability to develop a flexible architecture that takes advantage of the full array of national capabilities – government and private sector – to accomplish national goals.’
‘NASA would appreciate the opportunity to work with the Committee to develop language that would support a broader national and international effort that would maximize progress toward our shared exploration goals through the efficient application of our available resources.’
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.