NASA Chief Says Trip to the Moon Will Get Us to Mars Faster, but It'll Cost Ya
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Congressional committee on Tuesday that President Trump’s accelerated timeline to put humans back on the Moon is within the space agency’s capabilities, and that a revved-up lunar mission will improve the odds of American astronauts reaching Mars by 2033. For that to happen, however, Bridenstine said Congress will have to provide some extra funding—the exact amount of which NASA is still trying to figure out.
Speaking to the National Space Council last week, Vice President Mike Pence, on behalf of the president, directed NASA to put Americans on the Moon by 2024, instead of 2028 as originally outlined in Trump’s 2017 Space Policy Directive 1. Pence said the crash program to the Moon should be done by “any means necessary,” including the use of launchers and landers developed by the commercial sector. The U.S. has re-entered a new space, explained Pence, with the stakes now “even higher” than they were back in the 1960s
A number of Committee members, including Suzanne Bonamici, Jenniffer González-Colón, and Troy Balderson, expressed concerns that the pending mission to the Moon will take money away from other important NASA initiatives, such as observatories, STEM-related education programs, and scholarships. The Committee was also concerned that NASA’s ability to track climate change might be compromised by the distraction of going to the Moon.