The United States will have astronauts on the moon again in less than 10 years, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said today.
And this time, he says, ‘we will stay.’
In a statement on the $21 billion 2020 budget, the NASA boss doubled down on plans to send humans first to the moon and then to Mars.
With the new budget, which marks nearly a 6 percent increase from last year’s, Bridenstine says NASA is on track to have humans back on the moon by 2028.
The United States will have astronauts on the moon again in less than 10 years, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (pictured above, file photo) said today. And this time, he says, ‘we will stay’
WHAT IS NASA’S LUNAR GATEWAY?
The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, previously known as the Deep Space Gateway, will orbit the moon.
Nasa says it will open up opportunities for future exploration of deep space, as well as a return to the moon and missions to Mars.
The first modules of the station will be completed as soon as 2025 with construction starting in 2022.
Similar to the International Space Station, this new space station will be open to to astronauts and cosmonauts globally.
It could provide a staging point for the proposed Deep Space Transport vessel, which is designed to send astronauts and cosmonauts around the solar system.
China and India as well as other members of the BRICS Nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) may join.
The mission will give more information about the moon and also allow easy access to Mars.
‘We will go to the Moon in the next decade with innovative, new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the lunar surface than ever before,’ Bridenstine said on Monday.
‘This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay.
‘We will use what we learn as we move forward to the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.’
The plan, which has been in development over the last few years, relies on the developing Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, along with the Gateway orbital platform.
SLS and Orion are expected to be ready for their first uncrewed test flight in 2020.
Construction on Gateway – an orbiting lunar outpost – is expected to begin as soon as 2022.
It’s thought that these will enable extended human settlement on the moon, and serve as a jumping point to deeper-space missions, including missions to Mars.
The budget will also aid the progress of upcoming robotic exploration missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the Europa clipper.
‘Beginning with a series of small commercial delivery missions to the Moon as early as this year, we will use new landers, robots and eventually humans by 2028 to conduct science across the entire lunar surface,’ Bridenstine said.
‘With this budget, NASA’s critical work studying our home planet and the Sun will benefit humankind for generations.
‘We will reveal the unknown with missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa and the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. We will continue planning and developing the first round-trip mission to the Red Planet with Mars Sample Return.’
Bridenstine has detailed the space agency’s ‘moon to Mars’ vision increasingly over the last few years.
Now, coming up on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, NASA is working not only to get back to the moon, but to maintain a human presence there by establishing
Solid rocket boosters for the Space Launch System will be stacked at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The photo shows one of the sections of the Solid Rocket Booster
SLS and Orion are expected to be ready for their first uncrewed test flight in 2020. Construction on Gateway – an orbiting lunar outpost – is expected to begin construction as soon as 2022
Just last summer, Bridenstine said NASA wants ‘lots of humans in space,’ according to Space.com.
The planned Gateway craft will initially support brief science missions of about 30-60 days, and will be key to exploring the moon in greater detail than ever before.
The file photo above, taken on July 20, 1969, shows astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission
And, in the years to follow, a second module could be used to carry astronauts to Mars.
‘The first Gateway is about the moon, but I think the second Gateway, being a deep-space transport, again using commercial and international partners, enables us to get to Mars,’ Bridenstine said at the time.
‘What we don’t want to do is go to the surface of the moon, prove that we can do it again, and then be done.
‘We want to go to stay.
‘And the Gateway, in my view – I’ve been convinced – enables us to take advantage of commercial and international partners in a more robust way so we are there to stay, it enables us to get to more parts of the moon than ever before, and it enables us to get to Mars.’