In an interview, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was asked, "could China beat the U.S. back to the moon?" His initial response was encouraging. "Not if I have anything to say about it, and not if Joe Biden has anything to say about it."Following up, the Time reporter asked, "And yet the plans to have American boots on the lunar surface have already slipped from 2024 to 2025 at the very earliest. Part of the problem is that NASA’s funding allows for only one launch per year of the SLS moon rocket. Back in the Apollo era, we launched nine crewed moon missions from just 1968 to 1972."
Here's where Nelson's response contradicted the reality. "For a sustained landing program we’ve got to have more money. That’s in the 2023 budget."
But it's not. The funding is NOT sufficient to allow us to beat China, which intends to beat the U.S. to the Moon and has unlimited funding to do so. And to wait till FY 2023 to accelerate work on SLS, space suits and other key elements is too late.
A personal address to Congress by the Administrator on both the incredible promise of returning to the Moon and the strategic necessity to beat China to preserve free world access to the Moon would result in bipartisan support for the necessary funding.
Then go to three shifts to get it done, like we did with Apollo. Alternatively, empower SpaceX to run a lunar-direct mission with Starship. Either way, the stakes are higher than during the Soviet Cold War. Then the stakes were merely demonstrating with system was better, tyranny or freedom. Today, the stakes are access to space, the Moon and eventually Mars. Administrator Nelson, are you ready for 'launch?' Go!