NASA is busy firming up plans to send astronauts to the moon again, but this time around the end goal is to keep them there.
As the Independent reported, in order to achieve this feat, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is now asking for “the best and brightest of American industry to help design and develop human lunar landers.”
This, of course, is partially the result of Donald Trump and a bipartisan Congress making it clear two years ago that they would like to see astronauts travel outside of Earth’s orbit again, an act that first occurred 50 years ago, with travel to the moon determined to be a top priority now.
In a statement, Bridenstine explained that sending astronauts to the moon today is completely different from the vision that scientists and the government originally held 50 years ago, making it crystal clear that future missions to the moon would be unique in relation to past sojourns.
“As a lifelong NASA supporter, I am thrilled to be talking once again about landing humans on the moon. But to some, 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.”
The NASA administrator further elaborated about the “innovative new technologies” that scientists have at their disposal today, which will enable them to explore even greater areas over the surface of the moon, later remarking that “this time, when we go to the moon, we will stay.”
America is going back to the Moon — to stay! As we look to explore our nearest celestial neighbor, Administrator @JimBridenstine tells @Ozy how we'll partner with U.S. companies to design & develop landers to send astronauts to the lunar surface. More: https://t.co/geTHA5kkkO pic.twitter.com/NmLsYGXDtI— NASA (@NASA) February 9, 2019
In order to build lunar landers to explore the moon with, NASA is busy speaking with representatives from both public firms and the private industry, and so far have nine contracts in place with different companies with the end goal being that cargo will eventually be dispatched to the moon with their help.
Bridenstine has stated that NASA’s goal is to send astronauts back to the moon as soon as possible, and the agency has set a goal of doing this within the next 10 years.
“Billions of people around the world will watch history being made as astronauts explore more of the surface for longer periods of time than ever before, and help us prepare for missions to Mars and other destinations,” he further noted.
One of the major aspirations for NASA will be constructing a lunar orbiting outpost known as the Gateway, which will hold landers capable of transporting astronauts to the surface of the moon and then sending them back home again when they are through. To do this, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will be used in conjunction with Orion spacecraft.
With NASA preparing to send astronauts back to the moon again within the next decade, this will also be an important step for getting humans to Mars and other locations, as science continues to push forward.