NASA remains committed to sending astronauts to the south pole of the moon by the end of 2024, but meeting that ambitious target will require Congress to fully fund development of a new moon lander in the agency’s fiscal 2021 budget, Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Monday.
In a Lunar Exploration Program Overview document released earlier Monday, the agency said its Artemis moon program will cost $28 billion through fiscal 2025, including $7.6 billion for the huge Boeing-managed Space Launch System rockets, ground systems and Lockheed Martin Orion crew capsules that will carry astronauts to and from the moon.
Another $16.2 billion is required to develop, test and launch the new moon landers the program is depending on to carry astronauts to the lunar surface, the single largest chunk of the Artemis program’s “phase 1” budget through 2025.
Phase 1 of the Artemis program covers three flights to the moon: an unpiloted test flight of the SLS booster and Orion capsule late next year; a piloted 10-day loop around the moon in 2023; and a piloted landing near the south pole of the moon in 2024. The budget also includes development of new spacesuits, the cost of resupply missions and development of exploration technologies.