Early this year, Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s Administrator, noted that NASA was prepared to launch the first female and the next male astronaut to the moon. Additionally, Jim noted that the operation would be under the Artemis program. The launch’s significant strides were underway since the core and the spacecraft was almost in their final construction stages. Jim planned to launch the first uncrewed spacecraft- Artemis Ⅰ-to the lunar orbit by 2021.
However, Jim noted that the station is facing a tight schedule to meet the launch by 2024, and funding or technical reasons may delay the launch. Therefore, NASA and the government are necessitated to ascertain the smooth flow of the project. Jim stated that the Artemis mission s crucial to the nation, and every procedure counts. For example, Artemis Ⅰ is a prelude to Artemis Ⅱ and Ⅲ. If the first spacecraft encounters a delay, the rest will have to wait until the launch and test are complete.
The Artemis program involves five procedures. After a successful fire test of the core, it should be transported to Kennedy Space Station in Florida. The second step consists of the assembly whereby a link between the core and the spacecraft occurs carefully and with high supervision. Thirdly, Artemis Ⅰ launching should occur that involve unscrewed spacecraft. The fourth procedure is the launching of Artemis Ⅱ, and finally, after successful two tests, Artemis Ⅲ will be the last launch that will occur by 2024.
According to Jim, if the first spacecraft launch is postponed beyond 2021, then all the successive space missions will delay. The three tasks are linked and dependent on each other. Jim raised concern for the delay due to different projects raising their bill that might interfere with the Artemis program. In a live stream broadcast, Jim noted that the plans are on schedule; however, if any interference occurs, the entire project will be jeopardized. Nevertheless, the state seeks to raise the space budget to $25.2 billion in the next year representing a 12 percent rise compared to the current year. Jim stated that NASA needed assurance of $3.2 billion from the congress to cater for the Artemis budget and ensure that the plan runs smoothly.
Nevertheless, the state may overlook the budget since the COVID-19 pandemic drained the state’s reserves, and the budget came out a few weeks before the pandemic. On the other hand, the senate committee sought to know how NASA is still functional despite the pandemic. Jim assured the senate that staff protection is the number one priority, and different measures have been placed to ensure that every worker’s health is maintained.