And it's a plant that sounds tasty.
The US space agency has proposed to put men on the moon before the end of the next decade.
In fact, NASA has charted a refreshing roadmap for humans missions not only to the Moon but Mars and beyond.
NASA recently sent its human space exploration campaign to Congress, based mainly on five strategic objectives:
- Transition U.S. human spaceflight activities in low-Earth orbit to commercial operations that support NASA and the needs of an emerging private sector market.
- Lead the emplacement of capabilities that support lunar surface operations and facilitate missions beyond cislunar space.
- Foster scientific discovery and characterization of lunar resources through a series of robotic missions.
- Return U.S. astronauts to the surface of the Moon for a sustained campaign of exploration and use.
- Demonstrate the capabilities required for human missions to Mars and other destinations.
“NASA is building a plan for Americans to orbit the Moon starting in 2023, and land astronauts on the surface no later than the late 2020s. This will be the first chance for the majority of people alive today to witness a Moon landing – a moment when, in awe and wonder, the world holds its breath. However, America will not stop there.”
NASA plans to travel beyond the moon, and after landing on Earth’s natural satellite, the next step is Mars.
The American space Agency explained:
“The lunar surface will serve as a crucial training ground and technology demonstration test site where we will prepare for future human missions to Mars and other destinations.”
The Moon’s surface would act as an important outpost that will facilitate future mission to deeper space.
The mission to the Moon will be the initial kick to then go to Mars, with humans stepping on the red planet before the end of the 2030s.
The new campaign follows Space Policy Directive-1, signed last year by President Trump, and comes just weeks after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stated he wants to put ‘lots of humans in space.’
Gateway; a key platform
In order to make everything happen, NASA will rely on the Gateway, a lunar orbiting platform that will host astronauts farther away from Earth than we’ve ever seen before.
Some of the necessary elements for the Gateway project are already being built by NASA.
As noted by experts, Gateway will be assembled entirely in space, step by step, most likely using the Orion Spacecraft and SLS, in addition to other possible commercial launch vehicles.
And to show that they really mean business, the first element which will provide power and propulsion will be launched into space in 2022, explains NASA in the statement.