NASA reveals how it plans to get astronauts back to the moon by 2023
26 September 2018 22:54
NASA has outlined a new campaign to put humans back on the moon, and eventually send astronauts to Mars.
The space agency recently submitted a plan to Congress to ramp up its plans for human space exploration, with five new strategic goals to guide upcoming missions.
These goals rely on recent advances in commercial space operations and the upcoming Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.
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NASA has outlined a new campaign to put humans back on the moon, and eventually send astronauts to Mars. The space agency recently submitted a plan to Congress to ramp up its plans for human space exploration
As of now, NASA says it wants to have astronauts on the surface of the moon no later than the 2020s, and have humans in lunar orbit by 2023.
'This will be the first chance for the majority of people alive today to witness a Moon landing – a moment when, in awe and wonder, the world holds its breath,' NASA says.
'However, America will not stop there.'
Missions to Mars following the moon initiatives are currently targeting the 2030s.
The New Exploration Campaign has five strategic goals, the first of which will be shifting human spaceflight activities in low-Earth orbit to commercial operations.
The agency also plans to establish operations on the lunar surface and in orbit to facilitate missions to deeper space.
'This will be the first chance for the majority of people alive today to witness a Moon landing – a moment when, in awe and wonder, the world holds its breath,' NASA says of its plans. An image from Apollo 17 is shown
They also plan to identify resources on the lunar surface using robotic missions.
And in the years to come, they’re hoping to put US astronauts back on the moon, and demonstrate the capabilities to get to Mars and beyond.
The new campaign follows Space Policy Directive-1, signed last year by President Trump, and comes just weeks after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he wants to put ‘lots of humans in space.’
Many of these plans rely on plans for modules called Gateway.
The 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.
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., according to Space.com.
‘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.
As of now, NASA says it wants to have astronauts on the surface of the moon no later than the 2020s, and have humans in lunar orbit by 2023. Astronaut Gene Cernan is pictured above during the Apollo 17 mission
WHAT IS THE LUNAR ORBITAL-PLATFORM 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 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.’
The space agency plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020 to boost the search for past life, as well.
This could also demonstrate fuel production and other resources that could aid human exploration.