Apr 04, 2019 10:58 PM EDT
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator James Bridenstine announced plans to land on Mars by 2033. However, to meet this deadline, NASA will have to fast-forward their schedule and move the revisit to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024.
Bridenstine expressed the need to learn setting up camp and to maintain a lifestyle in a different world. He pointed out that testing capabilities and technologies are important, adding that the moon is the best place to do this. Getting to this initial objective will bring NASA closer to achieving its goal to land on Mars.
However, the accelerated timeline is yet to be approved. The new deadline for the second landing on the Moon in 2024 is plagued with delays. The rocket, Space Launch System (SLS) currently being built by Boeing, is still catching up with the projected schedule.
The SLS was originally supposed to be ready by December 2017 requiring a drastic acceleration if 2024 is to be met. The development of the spacecraft has already cost NASA $11.9 billion. Ramping up the timeline will incur additional costs. Committee chair Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson suggests that the Trump administration would need to clarify the costs and the source of funds as budget cuts have been implemented to the rest of the agencies.
Johnson explained that the importance of meeting milestones in space exploration, however, the chairman does not recommend risking the rest of NASA's programs just to satisfy impressive deadlines.
As part of Trump's push for exploration, the President signed the Space Policy Directive 1, allowing for missions such as another visit to the moon and exploration of other planets.
Vice President Mike Pence is enthusiastic about the 2024 deadline, adding that while the facts remain that the deadline poses difficulty, risks, and additional expense, back in 1962, they were faced with the same conundrum as well.
Later, Bridenstine stressed the importance of searching for extra-terrestrial life and that the country should keep a tight focus on the matter.
According to the chairman, it will take two years at minimum to make it to Mars and back to Earth. Mars is at least 33 million miles away from the Earth, while the moon is 239,000 miles away and would take several days to reach. Since Earth and Mars would be positioned on the same side of the sun only every 26 months and would take six to nine months to get to the other planet, 2024 is the best window for the exploration.
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