The Trump administration is asking for another $1.6 billion in funding for its ambitious new goal of returning American astronauts to the moon in 2024, although it has not said where this money would come from.
The budget amendment sent to Capitol Hill on Monday requests additional funding to the $21 billion that NASA had already requested for the next fiscal year.
“We’ve been given a very bold charge to land the first man and next woman on the lunar south pole by 2024 followed by a sustained presence on and around the moon by 2028,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters, according to Politico.
He did not, however, provide any details as to how much the five-year effort would cost or where the funding would come from. It is only clear that the financing would not hurt NASA’s science missions.
“As far as where the money is coming from, that is above my pay grade,” Bridenstine said. “… I have not been formally briefed and no one has told me. My focus has been on what NASA needs.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said on Twitter that his administration was “restoring @NASA to greatness,” writing that the U.S. was going “back to the Moon, then Mars.”
“I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” his tweet read.
Congress, however, is not as enthusiastic about the prospects of adding the requested sum for the moon program, particularly if government programs funded with taxpayers’ money need to be cut.
Out of the $1.6 billion, $1 billion would be allocated to the development of a landing system to put humans on the moon and another $651 million to speed up the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion space capsule programs.
The 2024 goal, which is four years ahead of the previous schedule, was announced in March by Vice President Mike Pence, who said that even though it may be seen as “too hard…too risky…too expensive,” the administration was unwilling to postpone the plans.