NASA plans to put a female astronaut on the moon first and then a man by 2024. Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Centre will be undergoing a flurry of activity for the building of spacecraft required to make a human lunar landing by 2024.It was the same center that had built the spacecraft for Apollo lunar mission some fifty years ago and the man who made the last lunar walk was American astronaut Eugene Andrew Cernan in 1972.
The cost of the new lunar program will be in the range of $20 to $30 billion. Several companies will be involved in the project. Business magnate Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is likely to be engaged in development of the lunar lander’s components alongside Lockheed Martin Corp and SpaceX of Elon Musk. NASA funds will be allocated after evaluating the competitive bids offered by all the above mentioned companies; this process is slated to be handled in the later part of the year. The program is given the name of ‘Artemis’ by the administrator of the space agency who has asked for Congressional approval to a $1.6billion hike in the projected budget of NASA for the following year.
The space shuttle program which came to an end in 2011 is planned to be revived by NASA for conducting human missions into space.
Vice President Mike Pence revised the target year for human lunar landing from the earlier 2028 to 2024 though US President Donald Trump is yet to signal his support for the mission. The President had indicated his preference for a Mars landing by astronauts in the month of June. Meanwhile NASA astronauts, Nick Hague and Drew Morgan are undergoing final preparations for their spacewalk in the following week; it shall be their fifth for the year. They will be involved in the installation of a new docking device on the upper portion of ISS’s Harmony module.