The New US Government has Announced Its Continued Support for the Plan of Returning to the Moon, While the Chance of Landing on the Moon in 2024 is still in doubt


Ken Becher

Feb 26, 2021

Jen Psaki, a White House press secretary, says that US President Joe Biden will continue to implement the Artemis program to send humans to the moon in the next few years.

Psaki says, "Through the Artemis program, the US government will work with industry and international partners to send astronauts to the moon. It's very exciting to carry out new and exciting scientific research, which can prepare for future missions to Mars and show the values of the United States. So far, only 12 people have walked on the moon, and that was already half a century ago. Artemis program is a waypoint to Mars, which will help increase the number of astronauts to the moon. Lunar exploration has been widely supported in both houses of Congress, as recently detailed in the Omnibus Spending Bill for the 2021 fiscal year, and we will certainly continue to support this program."

As Psaki notes, NASA intends to achieve its goal of returning to the moon with the help of industry and international partners, including the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. In her comment, she also mentions the new scientific goals that NASA needs to achieve in this program, including sending the first woman to the moon. Between 1969 and 1972, all 12 people who walked on the moon during NASA's Apollo program were men.

In December last year, when Biden hadn’t taken office yet, NASA appointed an "Artemis team" composed of 18 astronauts. They will carry out a lot of missions, which currently include the Artemis 2 lunar flight plan in 2023, the Artemis 3 landing mission in 2024 and other future missions for this program. Artemis 1 is scheduled to launch later this year and will be an unmanned test flight around the moon.

The Trump administration announced its goal of landing on the moon by 2024 in March 2019, when Vice President Mike Pence asserted that the United States needed to quickly land on the moon because it was engaging in a "space race". His words correspond to what historians sometimes called the "space race" in 1960s, when NASA and the Soviet Union completed the first few missions to send humans into space.

In July 2019, four months after the moon landing goal was announced, NASA’s manned space leadership was reorganized. A few days after the leadership reorganization, Bridenstine said that even though the process was accelerated, ensuring safety would still be the top priority. However, the 2024 deadline still puts huge pressure on NASA, which requires NASA to prepare many major systems, especially the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

During his tenure as director, Bridenstine repeatedly stated that NASA also tried to safely and quickly complete the manufacture of some components such as space suits and manned landers to reduce political risks when waiting. In the latter part of his tenure, Bridenstine stated that all funding for NASA's human landing system would be "necessary to achieve the goal of moon landing in 2024," and it would become "increasingly difficult" to achieve this goal with less funds. Congress ultimately allocated less money in the 2021 spending bill than NASA asked for.

NASA decided to delay the selection from three teams who are currently developing the lunar lander respectively. The teams—Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Dynetics—have all detailed their plans, and NASA originally planned to select two proposals this month to go into the development phase. (Source: Tencent News)

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