The Trump administration seeks to increase NASA’s next year budget by $1.6 billion — adding to the $21 billion budget President Trump had previously requested — to push forward the initiative, named Artemis, aimed to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024.
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“Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” Trump tweeted Monday.
The White House sent a budget amendment to Congress on Monday that called to use an additional $1.9 billion in surplus Pell Grant money to fund other budget priorities such as NASA. Officials insisted the re-allocation of the Pell Grant money would have no impact on those currently receiving grants, which help low-income students pay for college.
"This does not cut any spending for Pell Grant programs as the budget continues to ensure all students will get their full Pell Grant and keeps the program on sound fiscal footing," Office of Management and Budget spokesman Wesley Denton said in a statement.
NASA previously set a goal to land American astronauts on the lunar surface by 2028 — which Vice President Pence declared “not good enough” in March during a National Space Council meeting. The vice president then challenged NASA to get humans to the moon within the next five years and said the space agency must meet the new deadline by “any means necessary.”
The initiative to land the first American woman and next American man on the moon was named Artemis after the Greek goddess and twin sister of Apollo. NASA said in its FY2020 budget amendment it needed an additional $1.6 billion to help fund “deep space exploration, science and technology.”
“It’s the boost NASA needs to move forward with design, development and exploration,” the agency said.
About $651 million of the additional $1.6 billion is expected to be used to develop the Space Launch System Rocket and Orion spacecraft. Another $1 billion will be used to build human lunar landing systems “three years earlier than previously envisioned to bring humans to the Moon’s surface by 2024,” the budget amendment stated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.