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NASA Chief: Moon Mission a Step Forward to Reach Mars

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to "lead an innovative and sustainable programme of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities"

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Just 11 years after Eisenhower authorized NASA, American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Pixabay
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NASA’s new head, Jim Bridenstine, has defended the new agency directive to return astronauts to the Moon, saying that the mission will not derail the US goal of becoming the first country to put humans on Mars.

“Our return to the surface of the Moon will allow us to prove and advance technologies that will…(enable) us to land the first Americans on the Red Planet,” the NASA Administrator said on Wednesday during his keynote address at the “Humans to Mars” summit in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump in December 2017 signed a change in national space policy that provides for a US-led integrated programme with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

NASA Chief: Moon Mission a Step Forward to Reach Mars.
Mars. Pixabay

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to “lead an innovative and sustainable programme of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities”.

In his first major address as NASA administrator, Bridenstine, however, did not disclose any new initiatives by NASA to send humans to the Red Planet, Space.com reported.

Mars and the moon will be complementary initiatives, said Bridenstine, who was sworn in as administrator three weeks ago after NASA went 15 months without a permanent leader.

Also Read: NASA Spacecraft Finds New Type of Magnetic Explosion

“If some of you are concerned that the coming focus is the moon, don’t be,” Bridenstine said.

“We’re doing both the Moon and Mars in tandem, and the missions are supportive of each other,” he added. (IANS)

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The Aborted Mission To Relaunch In December: NASA

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched.

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Russian Rocket
Astronaut Anne McClain, left, is seen during training at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, Texas. VOA

The American astronaut who will hitch the first ride on a Russian rocket since last month’s aborted launch and dramatic emergency landing is confident that her scheduled trip in December on a rocket that she calls a “workhorse” will go smoothly.

Astronaut Anne McClain, along with a Russian cosmonaut and a Canadian astronaut, will man the Dec. 3 mission. It will be the Russian-made Soyuz-FG’s first crewed flight since Oct. 11, when U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and a Russian cosmonaut landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe after the rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff.

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Specialists watch broadcasts from the Soyuz spacecraft showing astronaut David Saint-Jacques of Canada, Oleg Kononenko of Russia and astronaut Anne McClain of the U.S. attending the final qualification training for their upcoming space mission in Star City near Moscow, Russia. VOA

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, though the agency has announced plans for test flights carrying two astronauts on commercial rockets made by Boeing and SpaceX next April.

“I do see the incident that happened on Oct. 11 with our launch abort not as a failure but as a success,” McClain told Reuters in a telephone interview from Russia. “It actually bolsters my confidence in the rocket and in the processes that we have.

“We’re confident in the vehicle and getting back to it,” McClain said of the Soyuz rocket, which she called “the workhorse of the space program.”

After lifting off from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur last month, a damaged sensor caused one of the rocket’s three booster stages to separate improperly, falling inward on the rocket and jolting it off its ascent two miles above ground, Russian investigators announced earlier this month.

Russian Rocket
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

During Assembly

Video from inside the capsule showed the two men being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred, their arms and legs flailing. Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin can be heard saying, “That was a quick flight.”

The accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a crewed Soyuz space mission since 1983, when a crew narrowly escaped before a launchpad explosion.

Also Read: NASA Grants $7 Mn For New Life Detection

In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched. Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, has said that it could have been made deliberately by someone during manufacturing or while the craft was in space.

McClain and two other crewmates will launch from the same launchpad in Baikonur, joining the space station’s current three-person crew. (VOA)