NASA has budgeted for the Mars Sample Return mission to take flight in 2021, reports the Los Angeles Times.
In total, the space agency on Tuesday requested $25.2 billion to send astronauts to the moon by 2024.
Nearly half of the funds – $12.3 billion – would be spent on NASA's Artemis program, while $3.37 billion would go toward the Human Landing System. An additional $2.7 billion would be spent on planetary science, including $233 million to develop the Mars Sample Return mission, a spaceflight mission to collect rock and dust samples on Mars and return them to Earth.
The U.S. is the only country to have successfully landed on the Moon, with the last crew departing the lunar surface in December 1972.
Vice President Mike Pence 10 months ago directed NASA to change that, and President Donald Trump, in his State of the Union address, called on Congress to fund the Artemis program – he requested Tuesday lawmakers approve the 12% increase.
"NASA's top-priority mission is to return American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and build a sustainable presence on the lunar surface as the first step on a journey that will take America to Mars," Trump's budget request states.
In total, the plan calls for $71 billion until 2024 to get men on the moon.
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