The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that an estimated $20 billion and $30 billion over the next five years would be needed to put US astronauts back on the Moon in 2024. "For the whole programme, to get a sustainable presence on the moon, we're looking at between $20 and $30 billion," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a TV interview on Friday, though noting that that figure does not include money already spent on the rocket and space capsule the agency plans to use for the programme, Efe News reported. "When we talk about the $20 to $30 billion, it would be $20 to $30 billion on top of the normal NASA budget," he said. "But of course, that would be spread over five years."
The cost is roughly the same as the Apollo 11 spaceflight of July 1969 when factoring in inflation. NASA is currently slated to receive more than $20 billion a year until 2024.
Bridenstine told CNN that going to the moon would be vital in learning how to build a presence on another surface before attempting to reach Mars, where astronauts would have to stay much longer.
"The reason the moon matters, when you talk about going to Mars, Earth and Mars are on the same side of the sun once every 26 months. That means when we go to Mars we have to be willing to stay for a period of two years," he said as reported by The Insider.
"We don't want to have to learn how to live and work on another world for the first time at Mars, because the cost is too high."