NASA faces an uphill battle to sell its lunar initiative to Congress, and agency administrator Jim Bridenstine is lobbying hard for funding for the Artemis program, reports The Washington Post.
Artemis aims to put the first woman on the surface of the Moon by 2024, but the ambitious project needs an extra $1.6 billion for fiscal year 2020, on top of the $21 billion the president already requested for NASA.
Bridenstine has met with 30 members of Congress or their staff members to pitch the program and clear the political roadblocks.
Some lawmakers are not budging, though.
"The president has decided to play politics with the Artemis program by seeking to speed up plans to send humans back to the moon in 2024 instead of 2028 without a strong justification for doing so," Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y., the chair of the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, said in a statement.
"Rhetoric about American leadership in space and advancing the role of women in spaceflight is all well and good," Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said. "But it is not a substitute for a well-planned, well-managed, well-funded, and well-executed exploration program. To date, Congress has not been given a credible basis for believing the president's moon program satisfied any of those criteria.”
Bridenstine is still chugging along.
The goal, he told the Post, is to "educate and, in some cases, even inspire the right actions that will enable us to get where we all desire to go."
He appears to have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's endorsement.
"As far as having a woman step foot on the moon, our hopes are riding on you," she said recently during a speech at the Ames Research Center.
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