The US House financing committee has declined to fund US President Donald Trump’s 2024 Moon expedition as NASA has failed to deliver the final price estimate for the programme.
Furthermore, the House isn’t too convinced about accelerating the Moon landing timeline from 2028 to 2024. Consequently, the Moon expedition (aka Artemis Programme) has been put on hold as Trump tried forcing a premature crew-launching mission to Moon in 2024 while NASA had set the original timeline for 2028.
It is learnt that the House finance committee told NASA chief Jim Bridenstine that it cannot fund the Moon Expedition project with the 2024 timeline or approve a change from Moon to Mars Expedition without the final cost estimate.
According to ArsTechnica’s recent report, Jose Serrano (chairman of Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee) has expressed concerns about moving the original 2028 timeline up by four years as it posed a greater risk of failure.
Serrano also added: “To a lot of Members, the motivation appears to be just a political one—giving President Trump a moon landing in a possible second term, should he be re-elected.”
The US House officials had to intervene in several such reckless attempts from the president in the past to rush the crew into space. Trump, however, sounded upbeat about executing the Mars Expedition within the 2024 timeline as evident in his recent tweet.
According to The Verge, Bridenstine had earlier pacified the president to reconsider changing the timeline and the untimely expedition to Mars. Here is what Bridenstine explained to Trump in Loren Grush’s report from July:
“The challenge is if we go direct to Mars, there’s going to be a lot of things that we haven’t yet proven out.”
Bridenstine also suggested that the lunar surface held an abundance of water and ice resources that could be mined to obtain rocket fuel. Such an opportunity would be sorely missed if the lunar mission was skipped in its entirety.
Consequently, Trump obliged to Bridenstine’s request and hence extra funding was requested by NASA to the House budget committee which declined it owing to lack of cost estimate details.
Nevertheless, the House officials had planned to finance this project from funds taken out of various programmes like the Pell Grant.
Meanwhile, here is what Serrano told the hearing attendees: “Unless we know what this is going to cost at the end, it would be irresponsible for us to take the first step.”
Members of Congress also criticised NASA’s failure to project the final cost estimate as it felt like making payments on a car without verifying or knowing its total cost.
It now seems like the recently launched Artemis Programme Spacesuits would be shelved for long, as the 2024 timeline for Moon or Mars expedition looks highly unlikely.