Donald Trump wants America back on the moon.
And he wants us back before foreign rivals like China beat us to it.
That’s why the White House is now asking Congress for an additional $1.6 billion to bankroll a manned trip to the Earth’s natural satellite by 2024 — four years ahead of the original target date.
This funding would come on top of the $21 billion the administration proposed in its FY2020 budget request, pushing the total to nearly $23 billion.
The timing of the announcement is appropriate, as July will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.
That’s not where the coincidences end, either.
This new mission will be called “Artemis” — named after the Greek goddess of the hunt and the moon, and Apollo’s twin sister.
And furthermore, as Vice President Mike Pence pointed out at a meeting of the National Space Council, America today is locked in a space race similar to the one it won decades ago.
“What we need now is urgency,” said Pence. “Make no mistake about it, we’re in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s, and the stakes are even higher.”
Indeed, the moon has transformed almost overnight from a cold, if not romantic curiosity, to a hotbed for scientific research and logistical planning.
In fact, it’s even become something of a battleground, with world powers vying to install military assets on its surface.
America’s competition came into crisp focus in January when China landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon — a historic first. Earlier this week, that lander, Chang’e 4, relayed new and valuable information about the composition of the lunar surface at the South Pole-Aitken Basin.
China is already gearing up to top that with a second mission scheduled to launch later this year.
In fact, 2019 is poised to set a record for the most soft lunar landings in a single year — topping both 1966 and 1972, which each boasted three. And that record will likely be broken again and again over the next decade. Especially since, this time around, commercial interests are joining in, too.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has already launched a lunar lander on behalf of Israel. And Jeff Bezos’ rocket venture Blue Origin is anticipating its own manned moon mission in 2024.
If you’re wondering what’s behind this sudden spike in interest, it’s because the world has come to realize the moon’s strategic value.
It’s not just a rock. It has a myriad of valuable elements, including gold, silver, titanium, and an isotope known as Helium-3 that could be used in nuclear fusion.
It also has water ice — a combination of water vapor and ice. That’s valuable not so much because it could provide for drinking water, but more so for the hydrogen and oxygen that could be used for breathing and rocket fuel.
This is important, because transporting water to the moon costs about $100,000 per gallon.
It’s believed that the lunar poles contain large, sprawling pools of collected water ice. So whoever lays claim to the water at the poles of the moon could have a ginormous advantage.
They could, in effect, turn the moon into a “gas station” and vastly improve the economics of accessing its resources.
This led Goldman Sachs to write a research paper in 2017 that said “space mining could be more realistic than perceived” and that the use of water as fuel could be a “game changer.”
And it’s why NASA Administrator James Bridenstine said: “It’s in our interest to make sure that we’re represented there as well and as soon as possible.”
Furthermore, Bridenstine says, these lunar landings will help prepare us for future trips to Mars.
"We’re going to the moon because we want to get to Mars with humans," said Administrator Bridenstine. "When we send humans to Mars, we have to be able to live and work on another world for long periods of time using the resources of that world. The best way to prove those capabilities and prove those technologies is to do it at the moon."
It’s not just Mars, either.
Commercial interests are also eyeing up asteroid belts, which have their own plethora of riches.
NASA estimates there’s $700 quintillion — that’s a 7 followed by 20 zeros ($700,000,000,000,000,000,000) — worth of gold, iron, and nickel in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
That’s likely to be the next frontier once humans master the moon and move on beyond Mars.
Make no mistake, the profit potential is huge here.
Space travel is suddenly back in vogue, and we’re only at the very beginning.
Now is the time to invest.
And that’s why I recently recommended a jet-engine company to my Wealth Warrior subscribers.
It’s already powered more than 1,600 rocket launches since the inception of the U.S. space program, including the legendary Apollo missions that landed the first men on the moon.
And it’s in line to get a lot more work now that America is making return trips.
If we’re going to establish any kind of colony on the moon, or Mars, for that matter, routine supply trips will be an absolute must. That means rockets will be in high demand.