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Senate fails to fully fund manned lander for Trump’s 2024 lunar mission

The Senate appropriations committee’s budget recommendations for NASA, released yesterday, has refused to fully fund the development of the manned lander needed for Trump’s 2024 lunar mission.

The Senate Appropriations Committee released its recommendations for all 12 FY2021 appropriations bills today. The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill provides NASA with $23.5 billion, $1.75 billion less than requested. The House-passed bill keeps the agency at its current level of $22.6 billion, so the final compromise likely will be somewhere in that range. NASA’s request for Human Landing Systems (HLS) for the Artemis program was particularly hard hit on both sides of Capitol Hill.

NASA had requested $3.4 billion for building the lunar lander in time for 2024. The House appropriated $628 million. Today’s Senate recommendation budgeted $1 billion. This practically guarantees that no manned lunar mission will happen by 2024.

None of this is a surprise. The politicians in Congress from both parties don’t really want to rush this program. For them it is better to stretch it out for as long as possible, spending mucho bucks in their states and districts. Nothing will be accomplished, but they will be able to tell their constituents they brought the jobs home.

Useless and empty jobs, but jobs nonetheless.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • sippin_bourbon

    This is bad. If they do not push the schedule, then it opens the door to infinite delays, and eventual cancellation.

    My own cynical prediction: President Harris cancels the program.

  • NavyNuke

    I see in their infinite wisdom, the committee managed to approved $0.3 billion for an SLS-upper-stage-to-nowhere.

  • Doubting THomas

    If Elon is successful with Starship development, perhaps it lowers the cost enough for a “The Man Who Sold the Moon” scenario. Perhaps Elon is Delos Harriman or someone else plays that role using Starship or a variant.

  • Edward

    If SpaceX gets to the Moon with Starship before NASA gets there on SLS, I wonder whether SpaceX will wait for NASA to put the first woman on the Moon or if they will do so themselves.

  • janyuary

    Edward, I once spoke with a woman who had begun her career as a quite successful and respected architect at a time when women architects were few. I was instructed to ask her about any women’s architect groups she supported and her thoughts on mentoring more women into the profession. Her polite reply after a period of thoughtful silence: “I have never been part of any women’s architect organizations, though I do belong to the major architectural associations. I have never seen what being a woman has to do with it. There is only one thing that’s important, and that is: are you a professional?”

  • Would SpaceX move more quickly in developing their Starship if they were to get more NASA funding? It appears as though they are moving as quickly as possible now.

    Would Blue Origin move less slowly if they were to get additional NASA funding? $1 B/yr of Bezos’ sold stock is quite a bit. Would $1 B + $1 B significantly speed them up?

    Dynetics in the other hand could really use the money and doesn’t have as much moola to spend sans NASA funding.

  • Edward

    DougSpace asked (rhetorically?): “Would $1 B + $1 B significantly speed them up?

    I suspect that if it could speed them up then Bezos would spend that much more on Blue Origin. Blue Origin is probably working as fast as it can, which is slower than SpaceX because of their very different corporate cultures.

    I’m going to take your story as meaning that you don’t think SpaceX will wait for NASA but will put together the best crews for their lunar missions.

  • eddie willers

    “I have never been part of any women’s architect organizations, though I do belong to the major architectural associations. I have never seen what being a woman has to do with it. There is only one thing that’s important, and that is: are you a professional?”

    A perfect answer. One that the very good Netflix series, “The Queen’s Gambit” gets into as well.

    Larry Elder tells a story of two golf pros asked “how do you determine a good golfer?”

    The first talks about a good stance, the proper backswing, hand placement, a good follow through etc.

    The second says, “I look to see where the ball lands”.

    I am so sick and tired of gender/race etc. instead of results that I could just scream.

    You either get the ball where it needs to go or you don’t.

  • Edward_2

    My guess is that China will be putting humans on the Moon, next.

    Alternatively Private (Musk/Bezos) will beat NASA and China to land humans on the Moon.

    Musk will put a Tesla rover on the Moon.

  • janyuary

    Edward, I’m puzzled: “I’m going to take your story as meaning that you don’t think SpaceX will wait for NASA but will put together the best crews for their lunar missions.”

    From my POV, putting together the best crew precludes considering a crew member’s sex as significant in such a mission.

    eddie: excellent, isn’t elder wonderful

  • Edward

    I am confused by your puzzlement. My sentence and your point of view are equivalent.

  • Jeff Wright

    The upper stage will be for outer solar probes to be orbiters instead of fly-by missions.

    That is where SLS will shine, once bugs are worked out

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