The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will return to the moon’s surface for the first time since Apollo 17, in December 1972.
NASA has revealed new ‘costly’ plans to return America to the lunar surface, but this tie, they will make use of a number of private firms to run the lunar missions.
According to reports, NASA aims to work with as many as nine private firms, ranging from small startups to tech giants like Lockheed Martin, which will develop the necessary elements like robotic landers as well as various systems to mine natural resources on the moon.
This private cooperation will enable NASA to develop the necessary technology for future manned missions. Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s Administrator has pledged to have a manned lunar base within a decade.
And to show that they (NASA) really mean business, the first lunar mission could launch as early as next year.
NASA says that they are now actively working on America’s next generation of space exploration.
“We’re building the next chapter of American exploration, returning to the moon – to stay,” the space agency announced.
“I think that it is possible we can have a presence on the moon with humans within a decade,” explained Bridenstine.
But NASA doesn’t want to stop on the moon, they plan after a lunar landing and lunar base is Mars.
“We’re going to utilize the resources of the moon, and take this all the way to Mars.”
Bridenstine has said that this new initiative is part of Trump’s Space Directive-1 policy.
“Today’s announcement marks tangible progress in America’s return to the Moon’s surface to stay,” he added.
And NASA has said that the future belongs to everyone, which is why future moon bases would be international. However, he hoped that the US would lead the plans and pave the way.
“The innovation of America’s aerospace companies, wedded with our big goals in science and human exploration, are going to help us achieve amazing things on the moon and feed forward to Mars,” added Bridenstine.
NASA further announced that the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program will be driven by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.
“This is a response to the science community, who has for a long time decided that we needed to do science on the surface of the moon,” Bridenstine said.
“There is a lot of amazing science we can do on the surface of the moon that we can’t do anywhere else,” he concluded.