Updated May 14, 2019

White House requests $1.6 billion more for NASA's "Artemis" moonshot

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.

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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 62,300 U.S. health care workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. COVID-19 had infected about 9,300 health professionals when the CDC gave its last update on April 17.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 5,589,626 — Total deaths: 350,453 — Total recoveries — 2,286,956Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 1,680,913 — Total deaths: 98,913 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
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World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).