Budgets do not include additional items for the lunar mission.
The space, with Donald Trump, is definitely far away. The president who announced as one of his priorities to send astronauts back to the Moon has disappointed expectations. The budget plan presented on Monday reveals that no additional funds are provided for the much longed-for lunar mission. A project that, apart from violins, was not going to be undertaken during his term even if he won the re-election in 2020.
It is a well-known phenomenon. For 45 years, no human being has stepped on the satellite, but almost all presidents have promoted evanescent stellar initiatives. The most well-founded was presented by President George W. Bush in 2004. The objective was to touch the lunar soil between 2015 and 2020. His successor, Barack Obama, dismantled it and put the accent on an even more complex initiative: the trip to Mars. Now, with Trump, the look has returned to the moon, but without financial fuel.
The main difficulty in completing a project of this type is its cost. The manned trip to the Moon implies an expenditure of about 100,000 million dollars – an amount five times higher than the budget assigned to NASA next year (19.9 billion, about a 370 million increase). These are some funds that, in addition, the White House intends to reduce from 2020 and remain frozen until 2023.
In this horizon, many dreams run the risk of breaking down. Among them is the International Space Station (ISS, in its acronym in English). After 17 years of activity, the budget project indicates that the station will stop funding in 2024, coinciding with the end of the agreement with the European Union, Russia, Japan and Canada that keeps it alive. This withdrawal is crucial. Washington has spent more than 100,000 million dollars in the sugar mill, two thirds of the total, and without its contribution, it can hardly survive. To mitigate the impact of this decision, the White House has advanced the possibility that the ISS could be privatized and become “a commercial platform”. The difficulties for this idea to materialize are immense. The supposed interested would have to do with a station that has an annual cost of 4,000 million dollars, whose operational life ends in about ten years and has been designed for experiments of pure science with long-term returns. A huge machine to which, right now, you can only send astronauts with intermediation from Russia, a country that has already announced its intention to have its own station.