NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is positive preparations for NASA’s Artemis programme will extend humanity’s reach into space. On Friday, August 16, Mr Bridenstine visited NASA facilities in Louisiana and Alabama, where the space agency is developing its Space Launch System (SLS). NASA touts the SLS as the worlds most powerful rocket once completed. The launch vehicle will one day ferry astronauts to the Moon, Mars and further out into the solar system.
Mr Bridenstine said: “This rocket will send astronauts aboard our Orion spacecraft to the Gateway under the Artemis programme.
“Our new deep space transportation system is the backbone for lunar surface exploration and will pave the way for human exploration of Mars.”
Under NASA’s Artemis, the space agency will fly astronauts to the Moon for the fist time since the Apollo 17 Moon landing in 1972.
The goal of NASA’s Artemis is to establish a permanent and sustainable presence on the Moon.
The NASA mission will include building the Lunar Gateway – a transit and refuelling space station near the Moon.
The Lunar Gateway will act as a stepping stone to future manned missions to the Red Planet.
Mr Bridenstine said: “Our SLS, Orion, and human landing system progress are important to accelerating our return to the Moon.
“As is development of the first phase of the Gateway.
“As you may know, we awarded a contract to Maxar Technologies to design, develop, launch and demonstrate the power and propulsion system by 2022, which is managed out of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio.
“We are also working to develop another module of the Gateway, the habitation and logistics outpost – HALO – which NASA Johnson will work with a commercial partner to design and develop.
“Following feedback from industry on our draft human lander solicitation, which closed earlier this month, we are targeting a formal request for lander proposals by the end of summer, and targeting awards by the end of this year to design, develop and demonstrate this system.”
NASA’S Artemis will start with robotic exploration of the lunar surface, followed by a human landing in 2024.
By the year 2028, NASA wants to cement its presence on the Moon, around the lunar orb’s south pole.
NASA is targeting the year 2020 for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission, followed by Artemis 2 in 2022.
Mr Bridenstine said: “NASA is going forward to the Moon, and getting ready for our next giant leap – Mars.
“This is an incredible time in human spaceflight, and we are proud to once again be leading the way.”