NASA: We’re Going Back to the Moon, and Beyond

NASA remains committed to supporting a space economy in low-Earth orbit for research, crew training and more: Opposing view

By Jim Bridenstine  |  USA Today
From left, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, astronaut Bob Behnken, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana and astronaut Doug Hurley at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 20, 2020.

Our nation is on the verge of launching NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on a commercial American rocket and spacecraft — a historic mission. NASA is in this position today because of our early investments in an emerging space economy in low-Earth orbit, which started with innovative public/private partnerships for cargo resupply services and has grown to include commercial crew.

Simultaneously, NASA has a bold plan to quickly and sustainably explore more of the moon than ever before under the Artemis program. Even as we shift focus to the moon, NASA remains committed to supporting a space economy in low-Earth orbit for research, crew training and more. As a government agency, NASA must lead in exploration for scientific discovery and go where there is not yet a commercial market. With the right architecture, we will foster a new lunar economy, too.

The scientific community has a huge appetite to study the moon. We will do so with robots and humans throughout this decade and inspire generations to come. Sustainable lunar exploration requires more than NASA, though; we also need commercial and international partners. And industry needs other customers.

We are working with American companies to deliver new science and technology payloads to the lunar surface on commercial robotic flights beginning next year, paving the way for a human return in 2024. NASA is developing our powerful Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft as the backbone for Artemis crew missions.

Industry is designing and developing modern reusable human landing systems to take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon. American companies will build and supply the Gateway, our new outpost in orbit around the moon. We are also discussing additions to the Gateway from our international partners.

From low-Earth orbit to our return to the moon, we are laying the foundation for humanity’s next giant leap, human exploration of Mars.

Jim Bridenstine is the administrator of NASA.

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