The idea of putting a human being on the moon was once thought to be too farfetched to imagine. Then, in 1969, the United States cemented its legacy as a powerhouse nation as they beat the Soviet Union to the moon. Now, more than 50 years later, the United States wants to head back to the moon.
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On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence gave a challenge to NASA’s top officials: Get Americans back on the moon by 2024. Pence spoke at the National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Pence made it clear that he wants Americans on the moon “by any means necessary” and gave a reminder “we’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s.”
Though NASA officials may be giddy over the news, it’s important to note that five years is a quick turnaround as new rockets and spacecraft are nowhere near mission ready. NASA has slowly been defunded into oblivion, and most of the equipment used may not be in top shape.
In 2011, the shuttle program was shut down in favor of allocating the funds elsewhere. According to Reuters, NASA planned on putting astronauts on the moon by 2028, but President Trump opted to expedite the plans perhaps as a focal point of his 2020 campaign.
Oddly, Pence spoke highly about NASA, but he didn’t speak on how the project, which could exceed tens of billions of dollars, would be funded. There is already a money issue with the current administration trying to fund a border wall. Adding a space race to this could be detrimental.
Axios reported that technology isn’t what is holding us back from the moon; it’s the lack of rockets and landers as defunding has really hindered NASA’s ability to stay up to date with other competing countries.
The past two administrations have gone back and forth wanting to fund NASA. During George W. Bush’s Constellation Program, he wanted astronauts on the moon by 2020. This was canceled after the Obama administration determined the group was being massively underfunded from the Bush era and would not be able to reach the moon by 2020.
Here’s to hoping the nation can put politics aside and allow NASA to bring America to greatness once again.