United States wants to accelerate return to the Moon for a quicker visit to Mars

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lunar lander NASA
Apollo 14 Lunar Module was the third crewed vehicle to land on moon. It carried Commander Alan B. Shepard Jr. and Lunar Module pilot Edgar D. Mitchell, the fifth and sixth men to walk on the moon. (Credits - NASA)

Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the moon on 20 July 1969. However, after 1972, human beings have never been to the Moon until now. After President of the United States, Donald Trump asked the Congress for more funds to facilitate the return of the astronauts to Moon quicker, NASA remarked that it was only the beginning.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator remarked that the ultimate aim is to enable human beings to reach the surface of Mars, the return to the Moon is a gateway for it. He also added that the timeline which NASA had actually set for the lunar mission has been accelerated keeping in mind the mission to Mars.

The original budget which was requested by NASA on March 11 amounted to 21 billion dollars. Out of that amount close to 11 billion dollars was meant for the “Exploration Campaign” which consisted of a lunar landing in the year 2028. This was considered as the groundwork for sending human beings to Mars.

But now, the United States wants its astronauts to return to Moon by 2024. As a result, Trump government released a revamped budget which requested for a further 1.6 billion dollars for achieving the target. As a result of this, the total budget for NASA would total to 22.6 billion dollars.

In March, United States Vice President Mike Pence told the National Space Council that astronauts will again return to the Moon in a span of five years and this mission has to be accomplished in any way possible. The success of this mission needs more than just monetary power. This is considered to be in reaction to China’s mission of being the first country to reach Mars.

The main component of this mission is to manufacture a lander which will transport human beings to Moon. For this, instead of developing its own lander, NASA is looking to partner with private space companies.

NASA has declared that the lander needs to be reusable and it has to be integrated into two components, a surface outpost and a Lunar Gateway which will comprise of an office, laboratory for orbiting the moon.

Jeff Bezos recently showcased a mock-up version of the Blue Moon, a human-class lander. It has been developed by his space venture, Blue Origin. It is supposed to be capable of landing around 4500 kg to the Moon and can also be used for supporting NASA activities.

If the approval of Congress is received, NASA hopes to fix a deal with the commercial companies in October so that NASA engineers can start working with the partners for the development process.

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