NASA tells lawmakers that it wants to see moon landings occur annually for 12 straight years

Blood moon australia
People watch the ‘Super Blood Moon’ rise over the Pacific Ocean at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia on May 26. Steven Saphore/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • NASA wants to go to the moon every year for a dozen years.
  • Administrator Bill Nelson on Wednesday outlined the agency’s plans during a House committee meeting.
  • “There needs to be a landing each year for a dozen years,” Nelson said.
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NASA wants to go to the moon every year for a dozen years.

Agency Administrator Bill Nelson on Wednesday said the $2.9 billion contract awarded to SpaceX for the Artemis program marked the beginning of what would be a series of ambitious projects to return often to the moon.

“There are different plans – what was awarded was just for one demonstration,” Nelson told the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. “There needs to be a landing each year for a dozen years. So there are many more awards to come, if you all decide it’s in the interest of the United States to appropriate that money.”

The committee hearing was on NASA’s 2022 budget request for $24.8 billion, a 6.6% increase over its 2021 budget.

The budget hearing came as the agency deals with the fallout from awarding the SpaceX contract. Three bidders submitted proposals for the project. NASA had been expected to award contracts to two bidders. But the sole contract went to SpaceX.

Some experts and onlookers questioned the decision to award an important contract to a single partner. One of the bidders, Blue Origin, a space exploration company founded by Jeff Bezos, challenged the award. The project is now in a black-out period, paused while the Government Accountability Office studies NASA’s process.

The agency had requested $3.4 billion for the competition, but was handed $850 million in appropriations instead. Still, Nelson in his prepared remarks praised the “collaborative approach” of the public-private Artemis program.

He said: “By taking a collaborative approach in working with industry and international partners while leveraging NASA’s proven technical expertise and capabilities, we will return American astronauts to the Moon’s surface once again, this time to explore new areas for longer periods of time.”