Artemis Program of NASA could Cost $30 Billion

Artemis Program of NASA could Cost $30 Billion

Artemis Program of NASA could Cost $30 Billion
Image Credits: CNN

Artemis Program will require $4-$6 billion (annually) for the coming 5 years to return American astronauts to the moon.

Despite all the controversies, NASA has always stuck to their claims of visiting the Moon of our planet in 1969. Recently, the authorities have been repeatedly mentioning the returning of astronauts to the natural satellite of Earth by 2024. Following these statements, a lot of speculations were being made about the cost of this mission and we finally have a word from the man-in-charge, Jim Bridenstine. In an interview to CNN, the NASA Administrator suggested that they will need $20-$30 billion for this program. This means that the space agency will require $4-$6 billion (annually) in addition to their standard budget to complete this task. It must be kept in mind that this cost is exclusive of the investment that has already been made on the Orion capsule and SLS rocket.

The primary goal of this mission is to establish a mechanism where astronauts could visit the Moon again and again. Bridenstine mentioned that it is an important step towards the goal of sending humans to the red planet as they will learn to live on another celestial body. Some salient features of the Artemis program include building a lunar space station, recruiting international partners, and landing humans on the lunar surface by 2024. According to reports, NASA wants to send two astronauts for this mission and one of them will be a woman (first-ever to walk on Moon).

Is Artemis Program really Expensive?

The amount of $30 billion might seem a bit too much on the first glance but it is actually quite cheap when compared with some of the other space missions. Having said that, the cost is essentially an estimate and we could see some changes in this figure as the program goes on. Bridenstine acknowledged the fact by saying that the unpredictability of the flight makes it impossible to come up with an exact amount. He said,

“We’re negotiating within the administration. We’re talking to the National Space Council. Once we come to a determination within the administration, 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.”

Political Difficulties

The Artemis program is not an easy feat to achieve even technically but the most difficult part of the job will be to get its approval from the lawmakers. Although Donald Trump did make his intentions clear about the speeding up this program (from 2028 to 2024), both Congress and Democrats want the administration of NASA to come up with a complete, detailed plan that clearly shows the spending of the money.

In addition to that, a number of critics are criticizing NASA by saying that they haven’t succeeded in sending a single human to the Moon since 1972 despite spending billions of taxpayer’s money. Consequently, these fears are also impregnating into general public who believe that NASA may have to divert funds from other research projects (climate studies, robotic space missions, and Earth science) to complete the Artemis program. A lot of this criticism is based on the delay and over-budgeting of the rocket and spacecraft that is to be used for this mission. Bridenstine responded to these claims in the following words:

“I will tell you my goal — and I’ve been very clear about this — is to make sure that we’re not cannibalizing parts of NASA to fund the Artemis program. I think there is a strong desire. It’s bipartisan to explore, to learn, to understand the science and the history of our own solar system.”

Overall Significance of the Artemis Program

Given the fact that SpaceX (owned by Elon Musk) is also working on a plan to fly tourists around the Moon, the chances of this program’s success are quite promising. NASA has already acknowledged that a substantial amount of R&D for this mission will come from the private sector and SpaceX is the most suitable option they could find. It also reflects the mentality of Bridenstine who believes that space should be entrepreneur-friendly in order to ensure massive progress in the coming years. He himself mentioned that by saying,

“We’re going back to the moon, but we’re doing it entirely different than we did in the 1960s. The reason we need commercial operators is because they can drive innovation if they’re competing on cost and innovation.”

You can listen to his latest interview here.

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