This approach would continue the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), enabling a full testing regime for this critical national asset, and bring SLS and Orion together for the following mission.
NASA has only collected samples from a few places on the Moon so far, but the U.S. space agency knows from the remote sensing data that the Moon is a complex geologic body.
In a major shift in direction, NASA wants to give the first mission of the Space Launch System (SLS) to commercial rockets, Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday.
In an online statement, NASA mentioned in particular the sample taken from beneath the lunar regolith during Apollo mission 17, which could help scientists "study the rock layers exactly as they existed on the Moon". So NASA is committed to making sure that we have a broad and diverse set of talent.
If satellites have been able to identify rocks and minerals that haven't even been collected yet just from orbit, who knows what we'll find when we finally put boots on the moon again.
"I think we as an agency need to stick to our commitments", he said in a response to a question from Sen.
The new plan would consist of first launching the Orion capsule, and then follow it with the launch of an upper stage for propulsion.
Scientists are continuously monitoring the moon using the data from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which is orbiting around the moon. Under Constellation, NASA was building a different set of rockets, Ares I and Ares V, and a crew capsule, Orion.
For years, critics of the SLS have said it could be overtaken by emerging commercial heavy-lift offerings such as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and Blue Origin's yet-to-built New Glenn rocket. NASA-funded research recently found that women may have a better biological capacity to fend off some of the cognitive declines associated with cosmic radiation.
Trump is aiming for the Moon as per the fiscal year 2020 budget that has around $21 billion in funding for NASA. "Kennedy's budget also includes investments in technology; Low Earth Orbit and spaceflight operations; science; safety, security and mission services; and construction and environmental restoration programs and projects", Cabana said. The move was in reaction to the Obama Administration's 2010 decision, as part of its FY2011 budget request, to cancel the Bush Administration's Constellation program to return humans to the Moon by 2020.
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