A new audit by NASA’s Office of General Inspection (OIG) has just estimated NASA’s spending on its Artemis program, which aims to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon by the end of the decade. The bill is going to be steep.
As you know, NASA and its main partners are aiming to establish a lasting establishment on the Moon as part of a program called Artemis. The first part of this incredible project will take place next year with the sending of an uninhabited capsule around the Moon. The return of humans to lunar soil since the last Apollo mission in 1972 is then expected to take place in 2025 at the earliest. There are also plans to assemble a lunar station orbiting our satellite.
While many technical challenges are going to have to be overcome to achieve these goals, another question arises: how much will it cost?
At least 93 billion
The NASA Office of General Inspection (OIG) recently looked into the matter. According to a new audit, the spending of the US agency for its Artemis program is expected to reach a total of $ 93 billion by 2025.
By comparison, the United States spent $ 28 billion on the Apollo lunar program between 1960 and 1973. This would represent approximately $ 280 billion today. Another point to underline: ” the current production cost of a single SLS / Orion system would now be estimated at $ 4.1 billion per launch“, Says the report.
Also, without measures to reduce these costs for future SLS / Orion missions, NASA will ” facing significant challenges to maintain its Artemis program in its current configuration“, Can we also read.
Remember that the development of Orion and SLS officially took place ten years ago. So this $ 93 billion estimate encompasses more than a decade of spending, although the Artemis program was officially proposed in 2017 by the Trump administration.
More testing will be needed
The audit also emphasizes the need to test new space suits, the development of which is lagging behind. He also stresses the need to test the program’s Human Landing System (HLS).
Last April, NASA selected SpaceX to provide this landing system, involving a version of the company’s Starship vehicle. Initially, the Starship’s first landing on lunar soil was to take place as part of the Artemis 3 mission, which provides for the return of humans to the scene. Now, NASA is requiring an interim test flight involving an unmanned landing of the Starship vehicle. The objective will therefore be to prove that the spacecraft can land safely on the Moon and return to orbit.