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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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NASA image.
Just 11 years after Eisenhower authorized NASA, American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Pixabay

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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NASA: Sending Back Astronauts to Moon in 2024 Could Cost About $30 Billion

The entire project will be framed as a practice run for a future mission to Mars

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NASA, mars
NASA, which has dubbed its current lunar programme Artemis (after Apollo's twin sister, the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness and the moon), plans to send one male and one female astronaut to the moon in 2024. VOA

Returning astronauts to the moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation, NASA has said.

“For the whole programme, to get a sustainable presence on the moon, we’re looking at between $20 and $30 billion,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a TV interview on Friday, though noting that that figure does not include money already spent on the rocket and space capsule the agency plans to use for the programme, Efe news reported.

The total cost of the Apollo programme that the US launched in 1961 and concluded in 1972 was $25 billion. The climax of that programme came nearly 50 years ago when two astronauts landed on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, which cost $6 billion at the time, equivalent to $30 billion today.

nasa, moon
Then one male astronaut and – for the first time – a female astronaut would set foot on the lunar surface in 2024. Pixabay

NASA, which has dubbed its current lunar programme Artemis (after Apollo’s twin sister, the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness and the moon), plans to send one male and one female astronaut to the moon in 2024.

Bridenstine recalled that the main difference between the Apollo programme and the Artemis program is that the former culminated with brief stays on the moon while the latter will entail a permanent human presence there.

The plan will involve the recruitment of private companies and international partners, the construction of a lunar space station and manned landings at the moon’s south pole within five years.

NASA, moon
That rocket will send into orbit a new spacecraft known as Orion, whose lead contractor is Lockheed Martin. VOA

The entire project will be framed as a practice run for a future mission to Mars. The programme includes an unmanned mission around the moon in 2020 and a manned mission that also will orbit the moon two years later. Then one male astronaut and – for the first time – a female astronaut would set foot on the lunar surface in 2024.

ALSO READ: NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover, Latest Robotic Mission to Explore Ancient Life on Red Planet

The three lunar missions will be delivered into space by the Space Launch System, a rocket being developed by NASA and Boeing that will be the largest ever built once it is fully assembled. That rocket will send into orbit a new spacecraft known as Orion, whose lead contractor is Lockheed Martin.

Besides these missions exclusively handled by NASA, five other launches will be carried out to place in lunar orbit the components for construction of the Gateway mini-space station, which will serve as a staging post for moon landings. Those five missions between 2022 and 2024 will be operated by private companies, according to NASA’s plans. (IANS)