NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has finally come out with the tentative cost estimates for the proposed 2024 Moon mission. President Donald Trump wanted NASA to focus on returning astronauts to the Moon and Vice President Mike Pence wanted it to done by 2024. The urgency could be because other countries also have their eyes on the Moon and the US would not like to play second fiddle. Anyway, the space agency has given an idea of the requirement of funds.

It estimates $20 to $30 billion over the next five years. In other words, it would translate into an additional $4 billion to $6 billion every year. That would be over and above the agency's budget of about $20 billion annually.

CNN reports that the funds would take care of Artemis, the name assigned to the program. Artemis is the Greek goddess of the Moon, hence the name. The task of NASA would be to send people to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century. There would be two astronauts – a man and a woman. She would be the first-ever woman to walk on the moon.

Importance of the Artemis program

The Artemis program has a specific objective, namely to set up a system that will ensure a “sustainable” presence out there for humans. The ultimate goal is to pave the way for astronauts to make it their second home.

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They must learn to live and work in alien, sometimes hostile environments. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine feels that would help the astronauts to prepare for the ultimate goal of occupying space on Mars.

CNN adds that the estimate of $20 to $30 billion is less than predicted.

Bridenstine clarified that it was not necessarily the final figures because spaceflight has many uncertainties. Hence, it is not possible to assign a price tag. He said - "We're negotiating within the administration." Incidentally, the present scenario is different to that of the first moon landing which was during a bitter Cold War standoff with the Soviet Union. The United States had spent nearly $25 billion on the Apollo program – that would be equivalent to nearly $150 billion today.

About the first moon landing

According to Express UK, as the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the Moon approaches, there is curiosity about the first impression of life there. It was on July 20, 1969 that NASA won the space race over its rival the Soviet Union.

Mission Commander Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon. Soon after landing, Neil described to NASA’s Mission Control in Houston, Texas, exactly what the Moon looked like.

In his words – “The surface of the Moon is very fine and powdery, almost like sand.” He did not face any trouble in moving around. In fact, even though it has only one-sixth of the gravity of the Earth, his movements were easier than in Earthly simulations.

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