Astronaut on the moon.

NASA Returning to the Moon

The opportunity for NASA to return to the moon has been an exciting one for NASA ever since the administration earmarked an additional $1.6bn in May for FY 2020 even though it is an amendment at this point that must be authorized by Congress later this year. NASA has already been allocated 21bn. The posture from the administration back in March was that the space agency would accelerate it’s mission back to the moon. It’s late 2020’s estimate of reaching the moon to now 2024.

The Artemis program, debuted in mid-May will attempt to place astronauts on the moon by 2024. The space flights associated with the program will include a 2020 uninhabited rocket to perform a trip to the moon and back followed by a crewed flight in 2024 with four astronauts in an Orion capsule. The Japanese space agency JAXA has agreed to assist NASA in the building of the Lunar Gateway space hub.

Video credit: NASA

As of early June, the administration is now sending mixed signals as to the importance of NASA heading back to the moon. Phillip Metzger, a University of Central Florida planetary scientists, brings up an important consideration for NASA’s future strategy, by getting the Gateway built, the agency will have a bargaining chip if things go south with a new administration or funding shrinks.