NASA has rolled out a detailed plan to land a woman and man on the moon by 2024—but it says it will need $3.2 billion next year to make it happen. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Monday that it is "critically important" for lawmakers to release the funds to build a human landing system as part of the project, which has an estimated overall price tag of $28 billion, USA Today reports. So far, only $600 million has been released to develop the lander. NASA says the Artemis program will put a woman on the moon for the first time in the history and a man for the first time since 1972. The plan released this week calls for an uncrewed Artemis-1 test flight around the moon next fall, followed by Artemis-2, in which astronauts will test equipment including the Orion lander. The Artemis-3 mission will then bring astronauts to the lunar surface.
"With bipartisan support from Congress, our 21st century push to the Moon is well within America’s reach,” Bridenstine said, per a NASA release. “As we’ve solidified more of our exploration plans in recent months, we’ve continued to refine our budget and architecture. We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new a generation of explorers. As we build up a sustainable presence, we’re also building momentum toward those first human steps on the Red Planet." The BBC reports that Bridenstine says the first female astronaut on the moon will be somebody already in the astronaut corps. There are currently 17 female NASA astronauts, including five who graduated from training this year. (Read more NASA stories.)