The White House is insisting NASA send astronauts to the moon by 2024, but for that to happen, the agency is going to need more money.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence said NASA must get humans back on the moon within the next five years, and if they are unable to meet this timetable, "we need to change the agency, not the mission." During a town hall meeting on Monday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told employees the agency is going to need a lot of additional funding, but was otherwise low on details. He did reveal that one plan involves building an outpost called a Gateway that could be placed in orbit around the moon; the problem with that is this doesn't exist yet, and NASA also doesn't have a way to get astronauts back and forth between the Gateway and the lunar surface.
Many of the employees are skeptical that NASA — which had aimed to get astronauts to the moon by 2028 — will be able to make the White House's deadline, The Washington Post reports. "Accelerating our return to the moon is an unfunded mandate," one employee said. "How will we do it without gutting our other important missions?" Bridenstine said he believes the White House will be able to come up with a way to get additional funds over to NASA, adding, "I'm not suggesting there are not holes here. The reality is we're moving quickly, and we're looking at all options. There is nothing off the table."
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