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posted by martyb on Sunday November 10 2019, @07:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the when-pork-flies dept.

White House warns Congress about Artemis funding

The White House warned Congress in a recent letter that without funding increases for its exploration programs, NASA won't be able to achieve the goal of landing humans on the moon in 2024.

The Oct. 23 letter from Russell Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, addressed overall issues with appropriations bills that Shelby's committee had approved in recent weeks, including the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) bill that funds NASA.

"The Administration appreciates the Committee's continued support for space exploration, reflected in the $22.8 billion provided in the bill for NASA," Vought wrote in the letter, first reported by Ars Technica.

He took issue, though, with the funding provided for exploration research and development, which includes work on lunar landers and the lunar Gateway. "However, the $1.6 billion provided for exploration research and development (R&D) is insufficient to fully fund the lander system that astronauts would use to return to the Moon in 2024," he wrote. "Funding exploration R&D at the $2.3 billion level requested in the FY 2020 Budget is needed to support the Administration's goal of returning to the Moon by 2024."

From the Ars Technica article:

Congress has mandated that NASA use the more costly SLS[*] booster to launch the ambitious Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter in the early 2020s, while the White House prefers the agency to fly on a much-less-expensive commercial rocket. In a section discussing the Clipper mission, Vought's letter includes a cost estimate to build and fly a single SLS rocket in a given year—more than $2 billion—which NASA has not previously specified.

[*] SLS: Space Launch System.

At the U.S. Air Force Space Pitch Day on November 5, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk put a much smaller number on the cost of launching a fully reusable Starship:

"A single Starship will expend about $900,000 worth of fuel and oxygen for pressurization to send "at least 100 tons, probably 150 tons to orbit," Musk said. SpaceX's cost to operate Starship will be around $2 million per flight, which is "much less than even a tiny rocket," he added.

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  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Monday November 11 2019, @03:01PM (1 child)

    by PiMuNu (3823) on Monday November 11 2019, @03:01PM (#918950)

    > "tons to orbit" is a measurement of the performance of a rocket.

    I realise that; my point is that reusability, and hence cost, depends on the delta velocity. A space probe accelerated to escape trajectory is much different to a satellite in low earth orbit, so the comparison in TFS is unfair.

    I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to know the difference, I just spot the apples vs oranges.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 11 2019, @03:46PM

    by takyon (881) <> on Monday November 11 2019, @03:46PM (#918967) Journal

    The other big factor is in-orbit refueling, which will allow Starship to surpass any delta-v SLS could reach, even with the honking payload.

    So SLS can get 20-something tons into lunar orbit, while Starship can get 100-150 tons there, or land it directly on the Moon.

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