Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, said NASA Administrator Bridenstine said Artemis (SLS – Space Launch System – Moon by 2024 program) could cost $20 (billion) to $30 billion over the next five years. This would mean $4 billion to $6 billion in extra funding each year.
Early in 2019, the Trump administration ordered NASA to accelerate its plans to return astronauts to the moon, moving landing up from 2028 to 2024. The administration has requested $1.6 billion in supplemental funding for NASA’s fiscal 2020 budget to help with development of the new Space Launch System booster and other required systems.
The $1.6 billion extra would be on top of $2.2 billion every year. There has been $14 billion spent on SLS from 2011-2018 and $18 billion from 2011-2019. There was $10 billion spent on the related Constellation rocket. SLS and Constellation were both adapting Space Shuttle technology for a launcher.
SLS 2011-2019 plus Constellation has been $28 billion.
SLS 2011-2024 plus Constellation and with Artemis would be $59 to $69 billion.
This does not include the costs for the Orion manned capsule.
Bridenstine had said that with modifications, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket could carry astronauts on Orion to the Moon if the SLS rocket was not ready. SLS political allies in Congress most notably Alabama Senator Richard Shelby have prevented a $100 million or less SpaceX Falcon Heavy with less than $1 billion in modifications from saving $7+ billion per launch of the SLS with Artemis. SLS was pitched in 2010 to cost $500 million. But how can we say that is the cost when from now to 2028 there are 9 planned launches and the SLS would cost $30 billion without any extra Artemis costs, but just to build and have 9 launches. This is $3+ billion per launch with development included.
NASA is working to refine program costs and plans for the NASA fiscal 2021 budget request. The NASA 2021 budget will be released in February 2020.
Last week, Bridenstine removed Bill Gerstenmaier from his role as chief of space operations at NASA Headquarters, along with another key manager overseeing development of the SLS rocket and Orion capsule, in a major management shakeup.
The original first launch was for 2016 when SLS was first funded in 2010. By 2014, the date had slipped to 2018.
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