Nasa needs an additional $1.6bn next year if they are to stand any chance of getting humans to the moon again by 2024, as the US president, Donald Trump, has requested.
The money would be on top of the $21.5bn already agreed by the agency. Most of the additional funding is needed to begin developing the lunar landing systems that will ferry astronauts to and from the lunar surface. Work on the lander was not expected to begin for another three years.
The rest of the new money will go towards ensuring that Nasa’s SLS rocket and Orion crew capsule are developed on time; that robotic explorations of the moon’s south pole prepare the way for human landings; and that new technology can be developed that will allow resources such as water to be “mined” from the moon.
Nasa calls the lunar programme Artemis and has said it intends to send a woman and a man on the first mission.
The $1.6bn must now be agreed by Congress before the plan can be put into action. Nasa says this is just the beginning and that additional levels of funding will be needed over the next four years to make the mission happen.