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NASA Requests Additional Funding for Artemis Lunar Lander Effort

Capitol Hill

NASA Requests Additional Funding for Artemis Lunar Lander Effort

NASA is asking for additional funding from Congress to finance a second space launch service provider for the Artemis program’s lunar lander.

In early April, NASA announced that SpaceX would serve as its sole provider of space launch services for the Human Landing System, reasoning that the mission’s $850 million could only afford an award to the lowest bidder.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told the Senate Appropriations Committee the HLS budget was too small to support “sustained and qualified real competition,” SpaceNews reported Tuesday.

Ars Technica previously reported that the budget was the biggest factor in SpaceX’s selection despite the company’s strong showing in the technical proficiency and management criteria.

Nelson recommended that appropriators provide HLS funding as part of a jobs bill covering infrastructure repairs at NASA facilities.

He said that a strong HLS program would help NASA stay ahead of China’s “very aggressive” space program, noting that the competitor successfully landed a rover in May. 

“I think that’s going to become a question for you all as policymakers. What is the value to the United States that we get back to the moon first, and get on with this program in preparation to go to Mars?” Nelson told the appropriators. 

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, chair of the commerce, justice and science subcommittee, expressed skepticism over whether NASA’s ability to meet its goal of launching the Artemis Moon mission in 2024. 

Nelson acknowledged that space missions have historically suffered delays and that NASA needs to be “soberly realistic” about its timeline. But he said the goal is still 2024.

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Category: Space

Tags: Ars Technica Artemis Congress HLS Human Landing System Jeanne Shaheen lunar lander NASA Senate Appropriations Committee space space launch SpaceNews SpaceX