The newest NASA budget lacks the necessary budget to get U.S. astronauts back to the Moon in the near future but is does offer some funding for a lunar exploration. The White House will unveil a copy of the 2019 budget for the space agency on Monday.
The document offers a glimpse of the Trump administration’s plans for the nation’s space exploration programs.
This fiscal year, NASA will receive $19.892 billon, which marks a 373 million increase from last year’s levels. The boost is due to an agreement passed by Congress earlier this year which hikes the levels of discretionary spending.
The new budget will also slash the federal money for the Obama-era “Space Technology” directorate and reinvest the cash in the “Deep Space Exploration Systems”.
Around $150 million will go to a new program designed to monetize the low-Earth orbit as NASA’s cashstash for the International Space Station will run dry by late 2025.
U.S. Won’t Return to the Moon Before 2024
Even though President Trump boasted that the U.S. should return to the Moon, the goal is not achievable with the current funding in the short term. The new budged only allows baby steps over the next decade or so.
For instance, the “Lunar Exploration Campaign” will enable the space agency to send robotic landers to the surface of the Moon from 2018 to 2023. A manned lander will be built by the end of 2023 or 2024.
- So, a timeline for a human landing isn’t available under the latest budget plan.
- We expect a moon landing to happen later in the decade, but not before 2024, which could mark the end of a Trump second term (if any).
In addition, there is little or no budget for the unmanned lunar landers just yet. Also, it is unclear if the initiative would involve other nations or private partners.
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