After plans to land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024, 4 years ahead of its schedule, NASA now suggests placing humans on Mars by 2033. At a congressional hearing on NASA’s spending budget in the fiscal year 2020 on Tuesday, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine cited the objective of putting astronauts on Mars by 2033, as a reason why NASA must quicken its Moon landing program, Xinhua news agency reported. Bridenstine stated NASA was preparing a petition for additional financing to attain the 2024 ambitious Moon landing objective.
Last month, US Vice President Mike Pence urged NASA to return American astronauts to the Moon in five years and cautioned that if NASA can’t do it, it’s NASA, not the mission, which must change. The Moon is a testing ground, said Bridenstine. We may move up the Mars landing by shifting upward the Moon landing. But, NASA’s delayed growth of its heavy-lift rocket the space launch system might mean additional issues for realizing these goals on time, the report stated. SLS’s replacement options or purchasing commercial rockets such as Delta IV rockets and Space X’s Falcon Heavy are now challenged with regards to thrust capacity, Launchpad accessibility and docking capability, Bridenstine stated while addressing a city and town halls on Monday.
Given the distance to Mars, the spacecraft has to take at least 6 months to arrive there, which makes the 2033 schedule tighter. At this year’s spending budget request, NASA planned to devote more than 50% of its 21 billion US dollars spending budget to building the crucial parts of the Exploration campaign which will send astronauts to the Moon and beyond. However, the petition was made to the original Moon’s landing plan by 2028 in mind. Bridenstine said NASA could have a spending budget request by Apr 15, the report stated.