This story was updated at 4pm. SUMMERTIME.
The White House has requested a $26 billion budget for NASA in 2023 to fund Artemis moon landings, geosciences and more as the agency aims to send humans to Mars by 2040, NASA officials said Monday (March 28). . March).
Lunar and Mars exploration, space technology and geosciences are among the priorities of the Biden administration’s budget proposal, which calls for $1.93 billion (or 8%) over the 2022 allocation given to NASA.
“Our goal is to apply what we have learned living and working on the moon and then continue into the solar system. Our plan is for humans to be walking on Mars by 2040,” agency administrator Bill Nelson said during his livestreamed State of NASA address Monday afternoon.
However, while part of NASA’s budget is earmarked to advance the Artemis program to put humans on the moon, the numbers and timeline for the program show a gap in landing humans later in the 2020s.
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Nelson was seen in the background during his speech by the agency’s Artemis 1 moon rocket on the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission is scheduled to start in May at the earliest, until the result of a countdown for a “wet dress rehearsal” is available. If NASA’s plans move forward, a crewed Artemis 2 round-the-moon mission will follow in 2024, and a manned Artemis 3 landing mission in 2025.
NASA’s inspector general has said the first landing is more likely in 2026, but even if the schedule goes according to plan, the new budget documents show a three-year gap between lunar landings.
A published “Moon-Mars Planning Manifesto” shows that the next manned landing will be on Artemis 5 in 2028, three years after Artemis 3. Then, manned landings on Artemis 6, 7 and 8 are planned for 2028, 2029 and 2030. It appears that NASA wishes to use a 2027 launch to help build its Gateway lunar space station, but it has not listed any 2026 launches for either the Moon or Gateway.
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In researching humans, Artemis’ Human Landing System (HLS) received the lion’s share of a $2.6 billion request (over $2 billion in 2022) in the program’s campaign development budget. HLS itself has requested $1.5 billion. The program was delayed by seven months following a legal challenge and complaints from Blue Origin following a single-source award to SpaceX.
However, the joint development infrastructure for Artemis exploration systems (including the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft) has a $4.7 billion request, essentially unchanged from the $4.5 billion request US dollars in fiscal year 2022.
Mentions of Mars in the budget were also sparse, despite the agency’s goal of landing humans on the planet in just 12 years.
NASA’s Mars campaign development will drop to $161 million (over $195 million in 2022) for long-range systems, including housing and human support for an eventual human Mars mission. Other missions are facing delays.
The agency’s Mars Sample Return mission has been delayed by at best two years to 2033, with a plan now involving two Mars landers instead of one. The budget’s $822 million request provides few details on the landing missions, which are expected to pick up samples from the Perseverance rover, which is currently working on the red planet to cache promising rocks and material .
The Trump-era Mars Ice Mapper Red Planet orbital mission is also being terminated, leaving NASA with no follow-up mission to relay communications from its surface missions. (The agency said in the call that it could work with the European Space Agency if NASA’s current fleet, which is still operational, is insufficient.) Proposed partners for the mapping mission included the Canadian Space Agency, the Japanese Aerospace and Aviation Administration Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.
Since ice is a resource that NASA plans to use on the Moon for manned missions, it’s unclear how the agency plans to fill the gap from the Mars Ice Mapper mission that would find the resource on the Red Planet.
NASA’s 2023 presentation shows that planetary science programs and astrophysics in general have essentially flat budgets, with at least four major programs (including the Mars Ice Mapper) slated for delays or cancellations. This is despite Nelson saying during his speech that the agency had the “largest request for science in NASA history.”
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is recommended for cancellation, with the agency declaring the “orderly shutdown” in line with recommendations from the 2020 decade-long Astrophysics Survey, which provided a unified view on the community’s direction for the next 10 years. (SOFIA has been canceled regularly since at least 2007, but each time has been reinserted later in the budget process.)
NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor mission has also been delayed by two years to no earlier than 2028 “due to budget pressures caused by various missions costing more than expected due to COVID and other reasons,” NASA explained .
Also, a Hubble-class wide-field telescope, the Roman Nancy Grace Space Telescope, has now been pushed back to 2027 (from 2026). The mission is intended to act as a guide for the James Webb Space Telescope’s high-resolution eyes, as Roman has a much wider field of view than Webb.
Other delays are occurring on programs such as an on-orbit mission called On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1), along with Solar Electric Propulsion, X-59 Low Boom Flight Demonstrator, and X-57 Maxwell -electric planes, NASA officials said during a budget call late Monday.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is asking for a total of $25.973 billion. The agency received $24.041 billion for 2022 in a blanket spending bill approved earlier this month.
Other priorities include space tech, which has increased to $1.4 billion (up from $1.44 billion in 2022), while climate change gets a slight boost to $2.4 billion (up from $2.3 billion in 2022). billion US dollars).
However, aviation received a hefty requested increase to $971.5 million (over $914 million requested and $800 million allocated in 2022).
“This includes $500 million to reduce aviation’s climate impact through efforts including a sustainable aviation national partnership to develop a next-generation passenger airliner,” NASA said in a statement released to media during Nelson’s speech.
The ISS budget remains nearly flat at about $1.307 million (slightly less than $1.327 million in 2022), with support for space transportation systems like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon also remaining nearly flat year-over-year.
“We have extended the commitment to operate the International Space Station through 2030,” Nelson said in his address. However, NASA is so far the only agency to have signed an extension from 2024 onwards. An extension between the partners could be difficult as Russia is a major supporter of the project.
Relations between the ISS and Russia remain normal, NASA stressed. But the country has been sidelined from numerous other high-profile international space programs in recent weeks due to its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
NASA’s desire to begin development of next-generation space stations to replace the aging ISS is evident in the budget; the amounts are small, although the relevant proportion has doubled. Fiscal year 2023 has $224 million earmarked for future space stations, more than double the $102 million requested for 2022.
Additional details will be provided during a phone call today at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) on NASA’s media budget.