Democrats Threaten To Block Expansion of Project Artemis
Sept. 2, 2019 (EIRNS)—The NASA budget for FY2020 will be marked up this month in the Appropriations subcommittees for aeronautics and space of the House and Senate. There is a significant possibility House Democratic committee chairs will oppose the funding of Project Artemis’ goals, as expanded by President Donald Trump’s order in March, for FY2020 which begins Oct. 1, 2019.
Politico’s space page reported Aug. 9:
“The two-year budget deal lawmakers passed before fleeing for August recess didn’t set a top line funding level for NASA. But Casey Dreier, a senior space policy adviser at the Planetary Society, is predicting it’s not great news for the space agency. If NASA gets the anticipated 4.5% increase, its fiscal 2020 budget will be about $22.5 billion, Dreier estimates. That’s nearly the White House’s request of $22.6 billion, which includes a boost for a 2024 Moon landing....”
The NASA appropriations level recommended in the budget bill that passed the House, is $22.3 billion, which restores cuts in other programs in Trump’s budget, but thus far does not fund the $1.6 billion increase asked for Project Artemis in FY2020. The overall amount would have to be increased.
Rep. José Serrano (D-NY) is chair of the Appropriations subcommittee which oversees NASA. In his opening statement at a July 24 hearing he said, “While I support a continued human presence in space, I remain concerned about the estimated cost in excess of $20 billion over the next few years to unnecessarily speed up by just four years the schedule for returning American astronauts to the Moon.” Trying to implicate the ranking Republican Russ Aderholt (R-AL), Serrano added, “Mr. Aderholt and I are big supporters of NASA. I just disagree with spending this money on moving something up a couple of years. It’s not that we oppose going to the Moon.” Later in the hearing, he demanded, “Is it even technically possible, financially responsible or necessary to launch a manned Moon mission four years early at an additional $20 billion cost simply to meet a political deadline?”
This is environmentalist sleight-of-hand. The Moon landing would not cost less if scheduled for 2028, but more. And more likely, as the “Moon-Mars someday missions” of both Presidents Bush 41 and 43 showed, it would be dropped “due to delays,” etc. and not happen at all.