CNN: Bridenstine Says Artemis Cost is $20-30 Billion

CNN: Bridenstine Says Artemis Cost is $20-30 Billion

CNN Business reports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the effort to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, Artemis, will cost $20-30 billion over the next 5 years.  Until now, no one in the Administration has been willing to say publicly what the cost estimate is, citing only the $1.6 billion FY2020 supplemental budget request as a down payment.

CNN’s Jackie Wattles and Rachel Crane say that Bridenstine told them the number yesterday and comment that it is “less expensive that some had predicted.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The $20-30 billion would be about $4-6 billion per year.  In April, Eric Berger at Ars Technia reported that NASA told the White House that it would be $8 billion per year for the next 5 years, but Bridenstine told the Senate Appropriations Committee that “It is nowhere close to that amount.”

Congress has been waiting for that cost estimate as it readies both a new NASA authorization bill and a FY2020 appropriations bill.   The House Appropriations Committee has completed action on NASA’s FY2020 request already in the Commerce-Justice-Sciene (CJS) bill.  It ignored the $1.6 billion supplemental request.  The House plans to take up the CJS bill as part of its second “minibus” appropriations bill next week.

A top Republican on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) tried to elicit an answer about Artemis’s cost from NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) head Thomas Zurbuchen at a hearing earlier this week, but without success.  (SMD is involved in only a small part of the Artemis program.  Artemis is managed by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.)

A NASA spokesman confirmed the CNN report re Bridenstine’s comments.

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