Can the US make it to the Moon by 2024?

Taylor Deaton, News/Opinion Editor

The Trump Administration is itching to go to the moon, and they have been since President Trump took office in 2017. According to Trump, a trip to the moon is necessary in the next five years, even if that means cutting out other portions of exploration into space.

NASA originally had been making plans to send Americans back to the Moon by 2028, but when Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 1 in December, it became clear that his plans involved getting astronauts on the Moon much sooner, as in 2024.

Trump’s goal of sending astronauts back to the moon within the next five years is in part to help his re-election bid, and to push the U.S. back up in the space race.

According to NASA’s 2019 Budget Requests, the 2019 budget includes almost $20 billion to lead astronauts on an “innovative and sustainable campaign of exploration and [to] lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization.” 

If everything goes as planned in the new budget, the Space Launch System and Orion Spacecraft will lead astronauts to the Moon in 2023.

On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence spoke out about the Trump Administration’s plans to land back on the Moon at a meeting of the National Space Council at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Pence stressed the space race in his speech at the National Space Council, stating that “the United States must remain first in space in this century as in the last.” 

“If NASA is not currently capable of landing American astronauts on the moon in five years, we need to change the organization, not the mission,” the vice president stated in his message during the meeting.

Pence’s statement was followed by a call to action, when he stated that NASA should “adopt new policies and embrace a new mindset,” in terms of achieving a Moon mission within 5 years.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine responded to Pence’s demands in a statement released shortly after the fifth meeting of the National Space Council.

Bridenstine said that “it is the right time for this challenge, and I assured the Vice President that we, the people of NASA, are up to the challenge.” 

He also stated that “we are now looking at creative approaches to advance SLS manufacturing and testing to ensure Exploration Mission-1 launches in 2020.”

Due to the short deadline for achieving a mission to the Moon, a few problems have come into play, so how easy will it actually be to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024?

Boeing issued a statement regarding an initial launch in 2020 followed by a launch in 2024 in which they said that “Boeing and NASA have implemented changes in both processes and technologies to accelerate production, without sacrificing safety or quality, and we remain on schedule to deliver the first SLS core stage to NASA by the end of the year.” 

So, in terms of a Moon landing by 2024, it might be a close one, but we will have to keep waiting to see if this goal may actually be achieved.