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Paying for Artemis: How much will it cost to go back to the moon?
by Jeff Foust — June 14, 2019. This article originally appeared in the June 10, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

NASA has laid out a rough plan for what it now calls the Artemis program, including what needs to be built — SLS and Orion, a “minimal” Gateway and lunar landers — and how it can come together in time for a 2024 landing. Credit: NASA

Since U.S. Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to accelerate its timetable for returning humans to the surface of the moon by four years, the agency has focused on describing how it can achieve that goal. In the weeks and months that followed Pence’s March speech, NASA has laid out a rough plan for what it now calls the Artemis program, including what needs to be built — SLS and Orion, a “minimal” Gateway and lunar landers — and how it can come together in time for a 2024 landing.

What the agency has been less forthcoming about, though, is how much it will cost. On May 13, NASA finally released a long-awaited budget amendment for fiscal year 2020, seeking an additional $1.6 billion to support work on SLS, lunar landers and related technologies.

But that amount, the agency’s leaders acknowledge, is only a down payment on the total cost of Artemis. That total cost remains undisclosed, although NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine rejected reports it would cost up to $8 billion a year for five years.

“We expect in future years that it will be more than the current $1.6 billion for 2020. We all know that,” he said during a briefing about the budget amendment. “We are working day in and day out to come up with what those numbers are for the future years.”

Those overall cost estimates do exist, at least within NASA Headquarters. “We have those numbers, and we’re still discussing those internally,” Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations (HEO), said at a May 31 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council. “I’m hesitant to give you the number because we’re still in this deliberation.”

That hasn’t stopped people, like members of the council and its supporting committees, from seeking more details about its cost. “Isn’t it true that the funding for a development program kind of follows, I would say, almost a bell curve?” said Wayne Hale, chairman of the council’s human exploration and operations committee, at a May 28 meeting. “$1.6 billion is just a down payment, right?”

“We anticipate that we’ll need an increase in the budget in ’21, ’22, ’23, ’24,” replied Ken Bowersox, deputy associate administrator for human exploration and operations. “Within HEO, we’ve already laid out budget estimates, but we don’t talk about those publicly until we’ve gotten agreement from all our stakeholders that it’s OK to do that.”

“It looks reasonable,” he said of those still-internal budgets. “That’s all I can say at this point.”

⇒ See “Bridenstine estimates Artemis cost at $20 billion to $30 billion”

What’s reasonable to one person or agency, though, may be unreasonable to another. That’s also true when it comes to where the money will come from. Bridenstine and others have emphasized that, for 2020, Artemis will be funded entirely with “new” money, in the form of the additional funding requested in the budget amendment, rather than transferring funding from elsewhere in the agency.

“It has been tried in the past that we cannibalize one part of NASA to fund another part of NASA,” Bridenstine said at an astronomy workshop in April. “That path does not work.”

He’s emphasized that point several times since then. “We’ve got support from a budget request that says we’re going to step forward and were going to fund this, and we’re not going to cannibalize NASA in order to fund it,” he told the NASA Advisory Council May 30.

Bridenstine may be right that it’s still “the top of the first inning” for funding Artemis. But NASA hasn’t been able to find the plate in its first pitches to Congress. Credit: NASA

Gerstenmaier, though, offered a different take, at least for later years. “When we get to ’21, I don’t think we’re going to be able to get the entire budget as new money to the top line,” or overall agency budget, he told the council the next day.

He suggested that, to fully fund Artemis in 2021 and beyond, some money will have to come from elsewhere in the agency, either within his own directorate or elsewhere at NASA. “We’re going to have to look for some efficiencies and make some cuts internal to the agency, and that’s where it’s going to be hard,” he said.

And, he hinted, potentially divisive. “Everybody can be on board when everything is going forward and there’s an infinite amount of new money coming into the agency.”

The official agency line, though, remains that Artemis will be funded without affecting other agency priorities, like science. “Everyone looks for efficiencies when managing budgets and that is what Mr. Gerstenmaier was talking about in his presentation before the NASA Advisory Council,” NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said in a June 5 statement. “However, the administrator said we would not raid science to pay for Artemis and that is the agency’s position.”

There’s still the matter of getting that additional funding for 2020. NASA and the White House released the budget amendment for 2020 just before the House Appropriations Committee released its version of a commerce, justice and science (CJS) spending bill that funds NASA. That bill did not incorporate the amended budget, and members of the committee did not reject or otherwise discuss the amendment during their markup of the bill later in the month.

That’s just a matter of bad timing, Bridenstine told the council, and not a rejection of that proposal. “Don’t get me wrong: there are people that have questions or people who have concerns, people who are interested in where the money is coming from,” he said, a reference to the White House’s proposal to pay for that additional funding from an existing surplus in the Pell Grant fund, which helps low-income students pay for college. That part of the proposal prompted widespread criticism within and outside Congress.

Bridenstine said he expects a warmer reception in the Senate, which has yet to mark up its version of a CJS spending bill. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the CJS appropriations subcommittee, has indicated his willingness to support NASA’s plans.

Ultimately, the Senate’s bill will have to be reconciled with a House bill that added funding to NASA science programs and some elements of its exploration efforts, notably SLS and Orion. That’s a process that, based on recent history, will likely take months.

“People have said we’re in the second inning,” Bridenstine said at the council meeting of the appropriations process. “I’m here to tell you I think we’re in the top of the first inning.”

Management lessons

It may be the first inning, but NASA hasn’t been able to find the plate in its first pitches to Congress.

As part of the rollout of the accelerated lunar exploration plans in March, Bridenstine said NASA would seek to establish a “Moon to Mars Mission Directorate” that would be charged with implementing what is now called Artemis. It would be taken from the agency’s existing Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, potentially including some space technology or science programs as well.

“When we talk about operations and we talk about development, those are two very different kinds of capabilities” with different skill sets, he said at a NASA town hall meeting in April. “What we’re talking about here is a mission directorate focused on development.”

Such a reorganization required congressional approval. In a May 23 internal memo, though, Bridenstine said that Congress rejected the proposal, but didn’t explain why. Instead, “we will move forward under our current organizational structure within the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.”

That decision led to the departure of Mark Sirangelo, an aerospace industry executive who joined NASA earlier in the year as a special assistant to the administrator to support planning for Artemis. He was widely expected to become associate administrator of that new mission directorate, had Congress approved it.

Last month, Congress rejected NASA’s proposal to establish a Moon to Mars Mission Directorate to oversee Artemis. That decision led to the departure of Mark Sirangelo, center, an aerospace industry executive NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine brought in six weeks earlier to help plan Artemis and, presumably, run the new mission directorate. Credit: NASA

“Given NASA is no longer pursuing the new mission directorate, Mark has opted to pursue other opportunities,” Bridenstine wrote. Sources within the agency said that the two didn’t agree on how NASA should manage Artemis when Congress rejected the mission directorate.

In his first public comments since leaving the agency, a June 6 speech at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC) in Arlington, Virginia, Sirangelo said he came to NASA to help it carry out that lunar landing goal “by any means necessary.”

“I spent the last three months as a special assistant helping to figure out three things: what is the path to the moon, how does it get funded and what, if any, restructuring will be necessary to make it happen,” he said. By the time he left in May, NASA had developed a plan and submitted the budget amendment for 2020, but was not able to make progress on the restructuring.

His departure has dismayed some in the space industry. “Given NASA’s past performance, there’s a lot of questions about whether or not NASA can meet that deadline,” said Robert Walker, the former chairman of the House Science Committee who served as the space policy adviser to the Trump campaign in 2016, in a June 5 speech at ISDC.

“NASA went to the Hill here recently and asked for a new directorate that would pull all these programs together, and basically Congress shook their heads and said, ‘No, we’re not going to go there,’” he said, prompting Sirangelo to leave NASA, “with probably very good reason.”

“He was a very, very good pick for that kind of program,” Walker said of Sirangelo. “I thought he was an inspired choice. But, Congress basically put the kibosh on trying to move ahead in that way.”

Asked why he thought Congress rejected the new directorate, Walker offered a one-word explanation: “Money.”

At the NASA Advisory Council meeting, Gerstenmaier supported the decision not create the new directorate. “That breaks down a lot of stovepipes that would have occurred between the two directorates. That allows us to innovate,” he said.

Instead, he said there will be organization changes within his directorate to ensure the Artemis program has clear authorities, including being able to work directly with other mission directorates like space technology. “You’ll see some changes coming on the organizational side.”

Sirangelo, in his ISDC speech, emphasized the need for what he called “strong central management” for Artemis, patterned on management of past major programs, both inside and outside NASA. “Typically it was one person working for political leadership who ran a small team of high-level technical, administrative, financial people who oversaw all elements of the project,” he said, citing as one example George Mueller, who managed Apollo for more than six years, through Apollo 11.

“In my view,” he concluded, “that’s what needs to happen for the moon program going forward.”


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Odp: [SN] Paying for Artemis: How much will it cost to go back to the moon?
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Czerwiec 22, 2019, 00:44 »
NASA contractors support Artemis cost estimate
by Jeff Foust — June 20, 2019 [SN]

Most of the additional $20–30 billion NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said is needed to land humans on the moon in 2024 will likely go to development of a lunar lander, industry executives say. Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON — Companies involved in NASA’s exploration program agree with a recent estimate by the head of NASA that landing humans on the moon by 2024 will require an additional $20 billion to $30 billion for the agency.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gave that cost estimate in a June 13 interview with CNN, saying that spending would take place over the next five years on top of existing NASA budget projections. He didn’t elaborate on what that cost estimate covered or how it was developed. NASA has not provided additional details about that cost estimate or answered media inquiries about it.

At a panel discussion here June 20 organized by the Space Transportation Association, executives with several companies involved in various aspects of what NASA now calls the Artemis program said that overall cost estimate appeared to be reasonable.

Frank Slazer, vice president for strategy and business development at Aerojet Rocketdyne, noted that many major elements of Artemis, including the Space Launch System, Orion and the lunar Gateway, are already included in those earlier projections. “One element that has not been in the budget so far was the lunar lander,” he said.

Development of the lander, he said, would likely require most of that additional funding Bridenstine estimated was needed. “The lunar lander, if you go back to the Apollo era, was about $30 billion” in president-day dollars, he said. “So that’s probably about right if you want to think about developing a lander capability.”

A recent study published by The Planetary Society, examining the historical costs of the Apollo program, estimated that the Lunar Module developed for Apollo cost about $23.4 billion to develop in 2019 dollars.

So far, NASA had requested only $1.6 billion in additional funding for Artemis for fiscal year 2020. Of that, $1 billion was earmarked for lunar lander work, with the rest going to SLS, space technology and science missions. That budget amendment, released May 13 but not yet taken up by Congress, cut several hundred million dollars from the Gateway program, reflecting the decision to develop only a “minimal” Gateway for supporting the initial 2024 landing.

Others noted that, besides the total amount of funding needed for Artemis, there’s the question of how it will be spread out over five years. “The phasing of this is important,” said Tony Antonelli, mission director at Lockheed Martin for the second flight of the Orion, formerly known as EM-2 and now called Artemis-2. Development programs usually have a funding profile that rises and then falls, although SLS and Orion have instead operated under much flatter funding profiles.

“We didn’t follow the optimum funding phasing profile through development, so it took us longer and probably cost more to get to here,” he said, adding the company was finalizing a production contract with NASA for future Orion spacecraft. “But we’re here now, so we can get to this production phase.”

The panel came a day after a Government Accountability Office report that warned additional delays in the first SLS/Orion launch, Artemis-1, are likely. That launch is scheduled for June 2020 but the report said there is as much as 12 months of schedule risk to that date, which if realized would push the launch to June 2021. That could affect later launches, including the Artemis-3 mission in 2024 that NASA currently foresees as the one carrying astronauts to the Gateway, from which they would board a lander to go to the lunar surface.

Bill Beckman, director of NASA programs at Boeing, said that the company was making good progress on the SLS core stage, with the engine section now complete and undergoing testing. “We’re still driving towards a 2020 launch” of Artemis-1, he said.

Antonelli said Lockheed has already received long-lead items needed for production of the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis-3 mission. “We’re well on our way to keep the third mission of Orion, which will land folks on the moon, on schedule,” he said.


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Reinvigorating NASA’s lunar exploration plans after the pandemic
by Ajay P. Kothari Monday, May 11, 2020 [TSR]

A revamped exploration program might preserve NASA’s plans to return to the Moon despite the economic impact of the pandemic, but it will have to forego development of the lunar Gateway. (credit: NASA)

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Josh Rogin argued for the need for a strong American response to China’s perceived mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic: “Americans in both parties increasingly agree that the United States needs a tougher, more realistic China strategy that depends less on the honesty and goodwill of the Chinese government.” Such a strategy should include space, too.

The response to the coronavirus will have long-term impacts on NASA. With trillions of dollars spent so far, budget cuts for all agencies can be expected in the next fiscal year and beyond. NASA will be among the agencies affected more adversely than others, given they are not considered to be essential. Democratic lawmakers, but also many Republican ones, will oppose any increase sought for the agency. The Moon has, in this since, moved further away. How do we fix this problem?

Antagonism towards China by the public, and hence lawmakers, combined with the threat of budget cuts, points to a potential and necessary path. For NASA, it may likely not be budget cuts, but almost surely any budget increase will face the axe.

China’s activities in space are not just for economic or military superiority, though they may be a side effect, with even higher probability of that now. They are also doing it for civilizational pride, which morphs into national pride. It is very strong. The motivating factors in the near future will not be just financial. China’s pride has been hurt by the pandemic, so they will do the things to rejuvenate it. The Chinese feel that they were an exceptional civilization for a long time. They want that again and understandably so. It is nationalism, not communism. They need a face-saving mechanism badly and space is one of them. Space exploration for China, and other old civilizations like India, beckons of otherworldly qualities. It overlaps with science and the spirit of exploring. We need to understand that, and not try to reduce everything to economic numbers.

Despite these recent horrendous stumbles, they will have humans on the Moon in as little as five to seven years. And it will not be for any other reason than to start to “win” in space. They may well be the first to extract water from the Moon. It is not a space race as a military competition this time around, but will devolve into an egoistic and economic one—a “space race” nonetheless.

This is why going to the lunar surface, not the lunar Gateway, is very important for the United States. This time, of course, it’s not just to visit, or even just to stay. That is not enough. It is to do things there, and those high priority things to do are on the surface, not in orbit.

This also implies we not only will need to be there in large numbers but also quickly, in order to compete or to reach a favorable distribution. Those at the table write the rules. All of the above means we need a solution that can take thousands of tons, not hundreds, of infrastructure and other materials to the lunar surface.

NASA is doing the right thing by exploring options for the Human Landing Systems through contracts announced recently. While doing that, though, we need to also find ways to efficiently send needed infrastructure to the surface first, in some format that does not rely on the lunar Gateway to get the task done. It needs to be done over next few years, with the habitats and other infrastructure, including for in-situ resource utilization, awaiting the astronauts’ arrival.

This problem cannot be solved by just the Space Launch System. It is five to eight times more costly than the approaches I’ve discussed here previously (see “A giant leap for America”, The Space Review, November 20, 2017; and “How to make an urgent and affordable return to the Moon”, The Space Review, October 14, 2019), and is expected to have much less frequent launch capability. We will need five to ten launches a year of this type to take the requisite infrastructure and material to the lunar surface. Going to Mars using this method is also faster, and it can be done in four years. And later, using in-situ water ice from the lunar surface with gravity assist would be an attractive choice as well. The SLS program needs to be readdressed to design and produce the upper stages for different destinations using different (possibly methane and hydrogen) fuels and different payload sizes, along with other exploration concepts and hardware.

Just letting the space companies take over will also miss one important mark. For the public to feel the pride, as they did during Apollo, they have to feel that they did it, that we did it, that NASA largely did it. NASA needs to devise ways where businesses participate, but where the public feels proud and not just the owners of those companies.

While continuing science, NASA should do those things now that speak towards this potential competition with China in the human exploration arena. It may be or surely will be a space race, a competition for lunar resources, including water ice, that we do not wish China to get a controlling interest in. Lawmakers will be in mood to listen to that, rather than spend billions for relatively more cosmetic endeavors like the lunar Gateway. If we concentrate on the lunar Gateway, we will miss the bus and then it will be too late: another easy win for China. We cannot allow that.

NASA should postpone the lunar Gateway for now, concentrate fully on getting to the lunar surface anyway we can—not that it has to be SLS or bust, especially now that its first launch has again slipped to mid to late 2021. We can get to the surface using reusable boosters like Falcon Heavy, New Glenn, or Starship, at a fifth the cost of SLS, as well as be quicker and scalable. It will require some modifications, some prodding, and some out-of-the-box thinking that I am sure NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate can do under the new leadership it has now. Congress will like it too—surely with grumblings from some, although others will secretly and not-so-secretly applaud it. I believe the Trump Administration will also be quite welcoming of it. The paradigm has shifted greatly in last few months. We can wait for several months to make these changes, but we absolutely cannot afford to wait for years.

NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development released on April 3 is very well thought out, but I am afraid the lunar Gateway reliance would be hindering. It needs to be flipped, with trying to concentrate on it after five years instead of before. That we need to beat China and stay several steps ahead is now a much more convincing argument to Congress, and correctly so. NASA should utilize this mindset while the iron is hot. Asking Congress for billions for the Gateway is just not going to fly. Using the unnecessarily costlier SLS will also not be favorably rewarded. But competing strongly with China will be. Upsetting Boeing and Lockheed Martin is minor compared to the whole country being upset by China as has happened now, and may again in future.

Dr. Ajay Kothari is founder/president of Astrox Corporation. His MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering are from the University of Maryland.

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Odp: [SN] Paying for Artemis: How much will it cost to go back to the moon?
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Wrzesień 23, 2020, 02:47 »
NASA lays out $28 billion plan to return astronauts to the moon in 2024
September 21, 2020 Stephen Clark

Astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt collects lunar rake samples from the moon on the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. Credit: NASA

NASA officials released a nearly five-year, $28 billion plan Monday to return astronauts to the surface of the moon before the end of 2024, but the agency’s administrator said the “aggressive” timeline set by the Trump administration last year hinges on Congress approving $3.2 billion in the next few months to kick-start development of new human-rated lunar landers.


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Odp: [SN] Paying for Artemis: How much will it cost to go back to the moon?
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Wrzesień 23, 2020, 02:47 »