NASA are making plans to send humans to the moon once again. This time, however, the plans are a lot more long-term.
Rather than send astronauts to the moon and have them return shortly after – as has been the case in the past – NASA’s administrator says their future plans involve staying on the moon and, eventually, going ‘to Mars and beyond’.
Jim Bridenstine, the space agency’s 13th administrator, says the directives have been given to them ‘by President Donald Trump and a supportive bipartisan Congress’.
Bridenstine said they’re calling on American companies to help design and build ‘human lunar landers’ and ‘reusable systems for astronauts to land on the moon’.
Writing on Ozy, Bridenstine commented:
Saying we’re returning to the moon implies we’ll be doing the same as we did 50 years ago. I want to be clear — that is not our vision.
We are going to the moon with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than we ever thought possible.
This time, when we go to the moon, we will stay.
The administrator said, in the near 50 years since humans last set foot on the lunar surface, technology and industry has seen significant change, saying the Apollo moon landings are, for many people now, just facts in history books.
But unlike Apollo, this time we’re going to the moon to stay, and from there we’ll take the next giant leap in deep space exploration.
Bridenstine also said ‘a sustainable, human presence beyond Earth’s orbit’ is ‘essential to the security of our nation’.
To do this, the space agency is planning to develop ‘The Gateway’, which he describes as: ‘a lunar orbiting outpost designed to ensure the safe transit of astronauts to the lunar surface and back home again’.
The Gateway will be the home base for the first reusable human lunar lander system. It’s a sustainable approach that creates more commercial opportunities, which is necessary for long-term human space exploration.
Bridenstine revealed Trump has told the space agency to ‘learn how to live away from Earth’, and they’re planning to get astronauts on the moon within the next ten years.
The space agency is also planning to send ‘new science instruments and technology demonstrations’ to the moon’s surface on ‘commercial cargo moon deliveries’, which they plan to be in operation by the end of 2020.
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