NASA’s Moon to Mars project may face dramatic changes

NASA’s 2024 moon return could be delayed because of a new proposal that suggests NASA focus less on returning to the moon and focus ingress on human missions to Mars,media Slash Gear reported. So far, the so-called “Moon to Mars” has been scheduled to send the first woman and a male astronaut to the moon in just four years.

NASA's Moon to Mars project may face dramatic changes

Under NASA’s plan, a gateway to the moon will be first built in orbit around the moon — which would be an entry point for further landings on the moon and on Mars missions. However, a new proposal introduced in January 2020 would significantly change that strategy. The HR 5666 proposal was introduced by Representative Kedra Horn, Democrat of Oklahoma and chairman of the House Science Committee, and focuses on Mars rather than the moon. “The medium-term goal of the Moon to Mars program should be to send a manned mission to the lunar surface by 2028, with the goal of putting a manned mission into Mars orbit by 2033,” the proposal states. “

One of the biggest changes envisaged in the bill is a change to Gateway. Instead of orbiting the moon, it is known as the “gateway” to Mars. Although it will still be used as an entry point for the final manned Mission to Mars, it no longer needs to serve the moon.

In addition, the HR 5666 proposal requires NASA itself to have “full ownership” of such vehicles, rather than the current model. In this model, NASA will obtain access to the Human Lander System (SLS) from commercial providers. NASA had previously submitted proposals for the HLS program, and Boeing and others designed the lander themselves.

NASA's Moon to Mars project may face dramatic changes

As Space News points out, even the lander’s approach to getting astronauts to the moon is different from the current strategy. The bill proposes that human lunar landers should be “carried on the exploration of upper-reinforced space launch systems.” NASA and others have considered another strategy, in which commercial launches deliver lander components to Gateway for final construction.

The bill aims to ensure that the United States became the first country to send astronauts to Mars, and its supporters did not try to hide it. “Americans should be the first to step on the Red Planet, and HR 5666 brings us closer to that goal by guiding people to a stable and sustainable course of action,” said Rep. Horn. “The proposal has the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

As a result, NASA will need to provide “a minimum list of human and robotic lunar surface activity that must be completed to complete human missions to Mars, including missions to be tested on the Mars passageand and plans.” The Act requires these tasks to be completed within five years of the first human moon landing. The moon base, which has personnel, will no longer be part of the Moon to Mars mission and will require separate funding, and earlier plans will also see plans to investigate how to extract lunar water ice and possible assistance to mars missions as outside the core mission.

First, though, the House Space Subcommittee will need to finalize the bill on January 29. The bill will then be referred to the Committee of the Whole.