The return of humans to the Moon in 2024 could cost about $ 30 billion, almost the same as it cost in dollars adjusted for inflation for the Apollo 11 mission, reported Friday, the US aerospace agency NASA.
“For the entire program and to achieve a sustainable human presence on the Moon, we are talking about between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 million,” said NASA director Jim Bridenstine in an interview published today by CNN.
The Apollo program, which the United States began in 1961 and ended in 1972, had a total cost of $ 25,000 billion, which, considering inflation, would amount to about $ 152,800 billion today.
That program reached its culminating moment almost 50 years ago when two astronauts descended on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission, which cost $ 6 billion at that time, equivalent to about $30 billion now considering inflation.
NASA, which has named named its lunar program Artemis, in memory of the goddess of hunting, forests and sister of Apollo, plans to send a man and a woman to the Moon in 2024.
Bridestine recalled that the greatest difference between the Apollo program and the Artemis program is that the first culminated with brief stays of humans on the Moon, while the second aims to establish a permanent presence there. The plan includes the participation of private companies and international partners, the construction of a lunar space station, the descent of humans in the South Pole of the Moon within five years and the layout of the project as a trial of a future mission to Mars.
The funds for the Artemisa program, the official explained, are added to the agency’s regular budget as Bridenstine has already told Congress, promising that the effort to place humans back on the Moon will not detract funds from the agency’s other aerospace activities.
The program includes an unmanned mission in 2020 with a capsule that will orbit the Moon and in 2022 will send a manned mission that will also orbit the Moon. Then again, in 2020 a man and, for the first time, a woman, walk land on the lunar surface.
The three missions will be carried into space driven by the largest yet-built rocket, the Space Launch System, whose production Boeing heads. At the tip of that rocket will go the Orion capsule, for whose construction Lockheed Martin is the main contractor.
In addition to these missions, which will be the exclusive tasks of NASA, there will be another five launches to place in the lunar orbit the components for the construction of the Gateway Space Station, which will serve as a shuttle for descents on the Moon.
These five missions between 2022 and 2024 will be in the hands of private companies, according to NASA’s plans.