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Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969. Photo: NASA/Newsmakers

The Trump administration will ask Congress to authorize another $1.6 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2020 in order to put the agency on track to return humans to the moon by 2024, President Trump tweeted Monday evening.

Why it matters: The administration had previously submitted a budget proposal to Congress that did not include funding for the ambitious moon mission, which moved the timeline for a crewed mission to the moon up by four years compared to NASA's previous plans. On a press call, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the additional funding provides a "down payment" on NASA’s efforts to land humans on the moon by 2024 and that more funding will be required in later years.

Details:

  • The mission will be named Artemis, Bridenstine said, after Apollo's twin sister and goddess of the Moon. (This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing during the Apollo Project.)
  • The amendment would provide for the continued development of the frequently delayed Space Launch System rocket, as well as the building of a staging infrastructure near the moon known as the Lunar Gateway, NASA officials said.
  • The amendment, and NASA's overall plans, do involve potential partnerships with commercial space companies such as Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin or others.
  • Bridenstine committed to sending the first female astronaut to land on the lunar surface on the next moon landing intended for 2024.
  • According to the AP, the White House is shifting money from Pell Grants, which help low-income students pay for college, to NASA. Bridenstine said the additional money would not come from inside the agency but that he did not know where the White House had found the funds.

Our thought bubble: Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer says this request doesn't mean the 2024 deadline will be met. It's unclear exactly how far these new funds will go toward meeting the ambitious timeframe laid out by the Trump administration. The real test will be in how much extra funding is put toward the moon mission after 2020.

  • Going to the moon in the way NASA wants to isn't easily done with a one-time influx of cash. This is an investment. It also remains unclear exactly what will lose out so the moon mission can succeed, with the possibility that funds will be shifted from other agency programs in the future.
  • NASA will need bipartisan support from Congress in order to get this amendment passed, so where that money comes from is just as important as where it's going.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.