The quest for total funding of NASA’s Artemis Program

After NASA’s first successful Moon landing mission, the agency continued to roll-out plans to return humankind to the lunar surface. The Artemis Project develops lunar lander equipment and spacecraft to achieve NASA’s vision. NASA commissioned its own Commercial Lunar Payload Service project to serve as a stable supplier of approved special services. NASA published new proposals for the agency’s partners within the private space industry to manufacture more lunar landers. Just after the public announcement, commercial space companies continued to inaugurate space programs to lure NASA as a potential user and prospective funder. According to the agency’s request for additional scientific and mockup Moon lander modules, NASA anticipates to acquire them by in 2022. The agency plans to utilize the lander modules to open up opportunities for NASA’s Artemis space program that intends to take humankind back to the lunar surface by 2024.

In early September, NASA announced a solicitation program that requested the various Outer space launch corporations to state their quotations for delivering between 50 and 500 grams of lunar surface materials such as rocks and Moon regolith. After the private space company collects the samples of lunar resources and gives proof of performing the extraction procedure, NASA seeks to request custody of every piece and make payment purchases to the company. After a successful collection, the lunar samples’ sole purpose is to enable the drafting of lunar surface resource transfer policies and regulations, not just for scientific analysis and research. 

NASA’s comprehensive financial year report documented the agency’s schedules that included its budget for the implementation of Phase 1 and then the Artemis 3 lunar landing mission scheduled for 2024. NASA estimates an expenditure of $28 billion from the year 2021 to 2025. This allocation includes groundwork conducted inside Space Launch System, the Human Landing System project, Exploration Ground Systems. 

The Human Landing System project takes a huge portion of the agency’s allocation, as its development demands a total of $16.2 billion within the fiscal period of 2021 to 2025. The funding request is seriously affected after the House’s enactment of a proposal for appropriations back in July 2020. The appropriation bill gave $600 million to the program’s activities for 2020 financial year. The allocation is a tiny percentage of $3.2 billion requested by agency. 

Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of NASA, said that the initial amount is paramount for the successful implementation of the first phase of the program. Bridenstine stated that the project must receive the total funds to keep its schedule on track for the trip back to the Moon by 2024. In conclusion, the delayed verdict on the project’s funds continues to hinder its progress.