Renewing NASA: The Artemis Case for Celestial Competition, with Revisions
Deaton, Thomas I.
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The role and scope of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has fluctuated throughout a number of mission-based cycles since the heightened publicity of the Apollo era. But throughout this history, NASA’s joint roles as the United States’ civilian research bastion on spaceflight and innovative public relations mission for American science leadership has remained unchanged. Surrounding this culture in the modern era is a new and continually-emerging commercial space sector, one which has made for the increased efficient use of often-waning federal dollars while enabling a swift timeline of revolutionary space travel. Enter the Artemis missions, originally developed as a NASA program to give use to the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket—the most powerful rocket ever built—and planned with the effort to return America’s next man and first woman to the moon as a next-step program for travel to deep space. While the original goal for this human lunar landing was 2028, the Trump administration in 2019 announced a call to accelerate this timeline to a 2024 landing, releasing the updated strategy (the “Artemis Plan”), however uncertain, a year later. This memorandum outlines the importance of NASA and its space-bound missions to both our national economy and global image and proposes a revised Artemis timeline (returning to the moon in 2028) that seeks to minimize the likelihood of a very public failure in the unmet 2024 goal—while understanding the careful political opportunities presented by what may be the final “giant leap” aboard a NASA-made rocket.