On Monday, NASA revealed the preliminary budget and basic outline of its lunar initiative Artemis, a program that aims to put the first woman on the surface of the Moon by 2024. But the space agency has a long road ahead before any astronauts will be traversing the lunar landscape. While putting the first female astronaut on the Moon is long overdue, there are still a lot of things that have go right over the next five years in order for this ambitious project to become a reality.

NASA’s first big hurdle is a political one. Over the next few months, the space agency must sell this initiative to Congress, which controls the government’s budget. Lawmakers may like the idea of putting women on the Moon, but they may not want to raid the budgets of other federal programs to help NASA achieve its goal. Plus, Congress has to buy into NASA’s blueprint for this lunar return mission, and lawmakers will be taking a close look at how the space agency plans to get there.

The US sent people to the Moon before with its Apollo program in the 1960s, so we know it can be done. But the political circumstances surrounding those missions were very different. Back then, the space race with the Soviet Union imbued the Apollo program with a greater sense of urgency and Congress poured enough funds into NASA’s budget to make the ambitious plan possible. US politics are very different now, and it’s unlikely that NASA will see such a huge increase to its budget this time around.

The Sell

NASA is already looking at an uphill battle, thanks to how this big lunar push began. When Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA in March to accelerate its human exploration of the Moon, he said that the agency had a plan to do it. But it took NASA officials and the White House nearly two months post-announcement to craft a budget amendment, detailing how much the initial phase of the program would cost. Key lawmakers in Congress made their frustrations known over the delay and lack of details.

“We have a White House directive to land humans on the Moon in five years, but no plan, and no budget details on how to do so,” Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), the chair of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics, said last week during a hearing before the budget was announced. “In essence, we’re flying blind.”

Now, lawmakers have an outline of a plan and a budget request that’s relatively small. Some reports initially estimated that up to $8 billion extra would be needed each year to make this possible. But the space agency is only asking Congress for an extra $1.6 billion to fund Artemis for fiscal year 2020, on top of the $21 billion the president already requested for NASA. For context, the total is only about $1.1 billion above the $21.5 billion NASA got in fiscal year 2019. That’s not a hard increase for Congress to approve.

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