If you’ve been watching the news over the past few years, you may have noticed that there hadn’t been much coverage about space exploration. Once in a while, there is a story about the International Space Station, but what about travelling to Mars, or even further out in the galaxy?
Well, there is some good news and bad news: The bad news is there hasn’t been any news. The good news, however, is NASA is planning a major space mission set for 2024: Going Back to the Moon. It has been nearly 50 years since the United States has ventured to the Moon, so what exactly is the plan?
According to NASA, the President of the United States wants NASA to go back to the Moon by 2024, and they haven’t backed down from that challenge. “We’ve been given an ambitious and exciting goal. History has proven when we’re given a task by the President, along with the resources and the tools, we can deliver,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
“We are committed to making this happen,” he added. “We have the people to achieve it. Now, we just need bipartisan support and the resources to get this done.”
NASA plans to travel to the Moon in two phases. First, they want to send another man, and the first woman, to the moon by 2024. Then, NASA wants to establish specific missions by 2028 for what they want to accomplish on the Moon. NASA’s new spaceship, the Gateway, will be critical for both phases to be successful. One feature about the Gateway is that it can be positioned around multiple lunar orbits, meaning it allows access to the entire surface of the Moon.
NASA is not the only team in the game though: Intuitive Machines and SpaceX will be making major contributions to earlier lunar missions. According to Mike Wall of space.com, NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Service program is aiming to get cargo on the Moon by 2021 through the use of Intuitive Machines Nova-C, which is their lunar lander capable of carrying up to 220 lbs. of payload. However, the Nova-C does not fly itself. SpaceX will launch the lander on their Falcon 9 rocket.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s President said, “Our partnership with Intuitive Machines is a great example of two private companies working together with NASA to advance space exploration.”
Privatized aerospace manufacturers such like SpaceX have completely flipped the script on what is possible for space exploration. Falcon 9 rockets are capable of launching and landing themselves, making them reusable for multiple missions. Therefore, the cost for exploration has drastically decreased, which is great for NASA and their taxpayer-funded programs. NASA can now shell out a few bucks and catch a ride to the Moon on Falcon 9.
The buzz (Aldrin) is definitely back in regards to space exploration and NASA could not be happier. America and the rest of the world will yet again cast their eyes to the cosmos and eagerly wait for man to be back on the Moon 2024.
Story written by: Joshua Konecke and Kevin Dohm
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