On March 11, the Office of Management and Budget released a proposed budget offering NASA $21 billion in funding for its 2020 fiscal year, a $500 million decrease from the final fiscal year 2019 figure. Despite the decrease, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called it “one of the strongest on record for our storied agency.” Ultimately, the budget represents around a 6-percent increase over the amount requested last year.
NASA is looking to return humans to the Moon as the first step in a longer vision that’ll hopefully result in humans arriving on the Red Planet. Of the $21 billion budget, $10.7 billion will be used to continue developing “key components” of its campaign for getting humans to the Moon and Mars. This includes the previously detailed Lunar Gateway, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and lunar landers, among other things.
Talking about the budget and space agency’s plans for it was NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who said:
We will go to the Moon in the next decade in a way we have never gone before. We will go with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than was ever thought possible. This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay. And then we will use what we learn on the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.
If everything goes according to plan, NASA plans to return to the lunar surface within the next decade, bringing with it a variety of new technologies and systems. These developments and innovations won’t exist only for the Moon, however, serving as a key stepping stone for developments that will take humanity to Mars.
NASA refers to the Gateway, Orion spacecraft, and SLS rocket as the ‘backbone’ of its deep space exploration plans. Potentially as early as this year, a series of small lunar delivery missions from commercial entities will take place. The space agency anticipates humans returning to the Moon by 2028, joining new robots, landers, and other tech.
NASA details the FY2020 missions in its budget here [PDF]. The 2020 fiscal year begins on October 1.