NASA continues to focus on the Artemis lunar programIt is moon to mars Goals and Sustaining a presence in low earth orbit as part of the agency’s proposed 2024 budget. The space agency also has a new item on its annual wish list: a space tug designed to take the International Space Station (ISS) out of orbit at the end of its lifespan.
On Monday, NASA outlined its allocated budget for 2024, which was Approved last week to provide more details on where that money will go. President Joe Biden is targeting a budget of $27.2 billion for the space agency next year, a 7% increase from last year and more funding for future NASA missions to the Moon.
During a phone call with reporters, NASA Chief Financial Officer Margaret Vo Schaus highlighted top priorities for the budget as early as 2030.
NASA’s proposed budget includes $180 million to develop a deorbit capability for the ISS by the end of 2030. Should the budget be approved, the space agency would demand the private sector to develop a space tug concept to lower the orbit of the ISS so it can re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up there. NASA had previously suggested using the Russian cargo spacecraft Progress to exit the ISS. and apparently that option is still on the table too.
“Our current model is still in use [the Russian spacecraft] and we continue to work with our Russian colleagues on how to safely de-orbit the Progress vehicles.” Meanwhile, Kathy Lueders, Associate Administrator for NASA Space Operations, told me the calling. “But we are also developing this U.S Ability as a way to have redundancy and be able to better support vehicle targeting and safe vehicle return.”
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Lueders estimates the total cost of the space tug would be around $1 billion, with the $180 million requested allowing the space agency to launch the project next year.
Still, NASA’s Artemis program is high on the space agency’s to-do list, snagging $8.1 billion from the budget (an increase from last year’s $7.5 billion). The plan is still in place for NASA to land people on the moon as early as 2025 and start construction moongatean outpost orbiting the moon that will house astronauts and scientific research.
The budget proposal provides for 2.5 billion US dollars SpAce Launch System (SLS) missileused for the launch of the Artemis 1 mission in November 2022 “to focus on the successful completion of Artemis 2, and making the necessary preparations for Artemis 3 and 4, which include the improved upper stage configuration and other upgrades,” Schaus said during the call.
NASA also wants to develop further his Moon-to-Mars program, a proposed idea to use the moon as a testing ground to eventually land humans on Mars. “I want to emphasize that our Moon-to-Mars goals involve a steady pace of basic applied and supporting science, lunar and planetary science, physics, physics and human biology,” Schaus said. “It also includes conducting science and collecting data through robotic exploration of Mars.”
With the same goal, NASA is also focusing on theirs Mars Sample Return Mission to bring back rock samples currently being stowed on the surface of Mars by the Perseverance rover. The future mission has been allocated $949 million to launch samples from the surface of Mars as early as 2030, an increase from the $800 million originally allocated for the mission the year before.
NASA’s Mars Sample Return Mission gets a cut of total funding for science, which totals $8.26 billion in the 2024 budget. Some of the missions highlighted under budget are the James Webb Space Telescope, the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope (scheduled for launch in 2027), the Europa Clipper mission to study the moon of Jupiter (scheduled for launch in 2024), and the ExoMars mission.
ExoMars, a cooperation between the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart, was supposed to start later this year Mission suffered an unfortunate delay after Russia invaded Ukraine. ESA has severed ties with Russia, and NASA could step in to help launch the rover until 2028.
Based on the 2024 budget, NASA aims to maintain its presence in low Earth orbit (at least until 2030), establish a presence on and around the Moon, and bring humans to Mars in the near future. The proposed budget appears to be a seal of approval for the space agency’s ambitious plans. Hopefully Congress will see it the same way.
More: NASA will soon reveal who is flying to the moon for the Artemis 2 mission
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