The agency will need "$20 to $30 billion" over a span of five years to return Americans to the Moon.

Massive Price Tag

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNN Business on Thursday that the space agency will need an additional "$20 to $30 billion" over a span of five years to return American astronauts to the Moon by 2024.

NASA asked the Trump administration for an additional $1.6 billion in funding — what Bridenstine described as a "down payment," according to CNN — for the mission, now called "Artemis," to stay on track for its 2024 arrival on the Moon. And that's on top of the $21 billion the Trump administration included in its March budget.

Astronomical Costs

"We're negotiating within the administration," Bridenstine told CNN in an interview. "We're talking to [the federal Office of Management and Budget]; we're talking to the National Space Council."

Congress denied NASA's $1.6 billion request. Overall, lawmakers are digging in their heels. And then there's the fact that NASA has spent upwards of $50 billion over the last 15 years, according to Ars Technica, on tech to get astronauts into deep space.

Future So Bright

But Bridenstine is adamant in his attempt to convince a reluctant Congress.

"I think there is a strong desire. It's bipartisan to explore, to learn, to understand the science and the history of our own solar system," said Bridenstine.

Another ace up NASA's sleeve: the private space industry.

"The reason we need commercial operators is because they can drive innovation if they're competing on cost and innovation," Bridenstine told CNN.

READ MORE: NASA estimates it will need $20 billion to $30 billion for moon landing, administrator says [CNN Business]

More on Artemis: Trump: “NASA Should NOT be Talking About Going to the Moon”

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