A top NASA manager forged doubt Wednesday on the space agency’s capability to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.
Kenneth Bowersox, the acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations, informed a Congressional subcommittee that NASA is doing its best to reach the White House-imposed deadline. However, he noted that he wouldn’t bet his oldest children’s upcoming birthday present or anything like that.
Bowersox, a former space shuttle and space station commander, mentioned it’s good for NASA to have that aggressive objective. Several things need to come together, like funding and technical challenges, he said, for 2024 to stand a chance.
The Trump administration requested NASA in March to speed up its latest moon-landing plans by four years to 2024. The request came a couple of months ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first lunar footsteps by Apollo 11′s astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
The program described as Artemis after Apollo’s twin sister from Greek mythology and guarantees the first moonwalking crew will involve a woman. The set would land on the lunar south pole, where vast reserves of frozen water might be tapped for future explorers. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who’s pushing Artemis every chance he gets stresses the purpose is sustainability to this time around, with the moon following as an essential training ground for Mars expeditions, maybe within the 2030s.
NASA’s replacement for the Apollo-period Saturn V rocket the Space Launch System or SLS remains to be in development. Its launch debut has slipped repeatedly and, based on Bowersox, will occur before then the end of the next year. This first test flight will send an Orion capsule to the moon with no one on board.
The space agency still must come up with new lunar landers, rovers, and spacesuits.
U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Florida, requested through the space subcommittee listening to why it’s taking so long and costing a lot for NASA “to get back to where we have been” throughout Apollo. The previous Apollo mission to the moon was in 1972.
He favors a more straightforward Apollo-like approach for getting astronauts back to the moon, requiring fewer launches and critical maneuvers than envisioned beneath the Artemis program. NASA’s proposed mini outpost around the moon referred to as Gateway, from which astronauts would descend to the lunar surface, must be delayed until later missions, based on Cooke.
Cooke pointed out the possible anxiousness in Mission Control during the Apollo moon landings.