NASA’s chief has laid out the space agency’s ambitious plan to go back to the Moon next year and, this time, to stay there and explore the satellite like never before.
In a “bold response” to a mandate from US President Donald Trump to leave Earth’s orbit for the first time since 1972, the space agency’s administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote a post calling on private American companies and industry leaders to “help design and develop human lunar landers.”
Bridenstine revealed the agency’s goals for the near and distant futures, including getting astronauts back to the Moon and sending the first ones to Mars. However the NASA chief clarified that sending humans to the moon again does not mean doing “the same as we did 50 years ago”.
“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,” he wrote on Ozy.
Bridenstine went on to say NASA is eager to get started “as quickly as possible” and have already committed to working with nine US companies to start sending new science instruments to the moon’s surface on commercial cargo deliveries.
The ambitious new mission will begin next week, according to Bridenstine, when the agency will meet with industry leaders at NASA headquarters to start discussing lunar landers. The team plans on carrying out their first commercial lunar surface landing by the end of 2020.
Bridenstine says the reinvigorated mission will introduce the Moon to the more than two-thirds of Americans that were not alive for the iconic Apollo landing.