NASA's official plans to build a permanent base on the Moon have apparently been leaked online, revealing how and when astronauts will return to the rock world for the first time in 50 years.
The internal documents seem to show how NASA wants to launch 37 rockets to the Moon in the next decade, with at least five of these astronauts carrying.
Beginning with an unmanned rover in 2023, the space agency is expected to take people to the Moon in 2024.
NASA will launch manned missions to Earth's neighbor each year between 2024 and 2028, according to the documents, which were obtained by Arstechnica.
The one-decade program ends with a permanent lunar base, which NASA wants to start building in 2028.
Plans began circulating among NASA staff last week, according to Eric Berger of Arstechnica.
They are in part a response to recent calls from the US vice president. UU., Mike Pence, to take the astronauts to the Moon.
"In the almost two months since Pence ordered NASA to return to the Moon by 2024, the space agency's engineers have been working to develop a plan that takes advantage of existing technology, large projects that are about to conclude and commercial rockets to achieve this, "Berger wrote. .
"Last week, an updated plan that demonstrated a human landing in 2024, the annual departures to the lunar surface thereafter, and the beginning of a lunar base by 2028, began to circulate within the agency."
Berger did not say how he got the plans, which have not yet been made public.
It seems to align with NASA's previous statements about its lunar program, codenamed Artemis.
As with any space exploration project, the main obstacle is cash.
NASA estimates that it will need 4,500 million pounds sterling to 6,500 million pounds per year, in addition to NASA's existing budget of around 16,000 million pounds sterling.
Chief Jim Bridenstine recently requested an extra £ 1.3billion in fiscal year 2020 to start developing a lunar lander.
The plan also relies heavily on contractors delivering ambitious hardware on time, which has hampered NASA in the past.
Boeing has been developing the central stage of the agency's next-generation rocket, the Space Launching System, for eight years, but has not yet arrived with the products.
The management of the multi-million dollar contract by Boeing, which now exceeds twice the budget, was criticized by NASA's Inspector General.
NASA was not immediately available for comment.
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In other space news, NASA released a video last week in which it mocked the objectives of the Moon mission.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos recently promised to take a man to the moon in 2024 with a rocket built by his private space firm Blue Origin.
He also showed sci-fi versions of his plans for giant rotating space habitats that could hold a billion people.
What do you think of NASA's plans? Let us know in the comments!
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