After plans to land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024, four years in advance of their earlier schedule, NASA at present proposes to put humans on Mars by 2033.
At a congressional hearing on NASA’s budget in fiscal year 2020 on Tuesday, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine cited the goal of putting astronauts on Mars by 2033, as a good reason why NASA have to accelerate its Moon landing plan, Xinhua news agency reported.
Bridenstine claimed NASA was preparing a request for a additional funding to achieve the 2024 ambitious Moon landing goal.
Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence urged NASA to return American astronauts to the Moon within five years (by 2024) and cautioned that in case NASA is not able to do it, it is actually NASA, not the mission, that must change .
“The Moon is the proving to be ground,” claimed Bridenstine. “We can easily move up the Mars landing by moving up the Moon landing.”
But, NASA’s postponed development of its new heavy-lift rocket the Space Launch System (SLS) may mean additional problems for realising these goals on time, the report claimed.
As well, SLS’s replacement options or buying commercial rockets like Delta IV heavy rockets and Space X’s Falcon Heavy are now technically challenged in terms of thrust ability, launchpad availability and docking ability, Bridenstine said when addressing a town hall on Monday.
Given the distance to Mars, spacecraft has to take a minimum of six months to get there, making the 2033 schedule tighter.
In this particular year’s budget request, NASA prepared to devote more than half of its 21 billion US dollars budget to building the key aspects of the Exploration campaign which will send astronauts to the Moon and beyond.
However the demand was created with the original Moon landing plan by 2028 in mind. Bridenstine claimed NASA would have an updated budget request by April 15, the statement claimed.