The space agency has decided it has unfinished business on our lunar satellite and wants to set up a permanent base on the moon. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine made the announcement that he wants to set up a lunar colony and called on “the best and brightest of American industry to help design and develop “human lunar landers”. The base would be used as a checkpoint between Earth and Mars while also allowing astronauts to study the moon in close detail.
Mr Bridentstine wrote for the magazine OZY: “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.
“We are going to the moon with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than we ever thought possible.
“This time, when we go to the moon, we will stay.”
The plan to get humans back to moon will begin as early as next week, according to the NASA chief, when private and public partners meet at the agency’s headquarters next week to discuss lunar landers to help “a sustainable, human presence beyond Earth’s orbit”.
“That starts with the Gateway – a lunar orbiting outpost designed to ensure the safe transit of astronauts to the lunar surface and back home again.
“The Gateway will be the home base for the first reusable human lunar lander system.”
NASA has not sent humans to the moon since 1972 when the final of its Apollo missions saw Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt perform a moonwalk.
Now they hope to get humans back there “within the next decade.”
Mr Bridentstine added: “More than two-thirds of Americans today were not even alive to witness the six successful Apollo moon landings, myself included.
“Extraordinary as they were, for many the lunar expeditions are facts from history books or stories told by older relatives.
“But unlike Apollo, this time we’re going to the moon to stay, and from there we’ll take the next giant leap in deep space exploration.
“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.”