WASHINGTON, September 19. /TASS/. Kenneth Bowersox, NASA’s acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations, expressed doubts about plans to land US astronauts on the Moon by 2024, The Washington Post reported.
During congressional hearings on Wednesday, the official said NASA would do its best to meet the deadline set by the White House. "I wouldn’t bet my oldest child’s upcoming birthday present or anything like that," he added.
According to Bowersox, "that aggressive goal" itself was a good thing, but, in order to meet the deadline, the agency will have to solve lots of technical and financial problems.
"What’s important is that we launch when we’re ready, that we have a successful mission when it launches, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that just arbitrarily we’re going to make it," he said. "There’s a lot of risk in making the date, but we want to try to do it."
This spring, NASA announced that its new lunar program will be named Artemis and will consist of three stages. The first mission, Artemis 1, is due in the second half of 2020 and envisages the launch of the Orion spacecraft with no crew on board, which will orbit the Moon and return back to Earth.
During the second stage, Artemis 2, a manned spacecraft will circle the Earth’s natural satellite in 2022. The third stage, Artemis 3, will include a landing on the Moon in 2024.
US President Donald Trump announced in May that he planned to allocate additional $1.6 billion to NASA budget for Moon and Mars exploration programs. The sum will be requested from the Congress in addition to the $21 billion already promised to the US space agency in the 2020 fiscal year, beginning on October 1.