NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says it’s possible because the current administration wants another trip to the moon in the near future – and the agency has been given a budget that includes enough cash for a new “Lunar Gateway” space station, which it anticipates will orbit the moon by the mid-2020s.
“We need to learn how to live and work in another world,” said Bridenstine. The moon is the best place to prove those capabilities and technologies. The sooner we can achieve that objective, the sooner we can move on to Mars.”
Apparently NASA intends to go beyond Mars, too.
According to NASA, the moon “is a treasure chest of science that holds many fascinating mysteries to explore – many that will advance our understanding of our home planet and solar system, as well as the cosmos beyond. NASA wants to use the Moon’s unique perspective as a science platform to look back at the Earth, observe the Sun, and view the vast universe.”
The agency intends to deliver scientific instruments to the moon for U.S. companies this year, and it plans to use those deliveries to test new lander technologies that can eventually be used on Mars. It’s also working with private companies to meet the challenges of living in space by exploring technology for disposing of trash and using existing resources.
The trip to Mars is a 34-million-mile journey, which means the technology NASA develops for use on the moon (and on the way to the moon) must be able to survive it. 2033 may be an incredibly ambitious goal, but the U.S. government has implemented Space Policy Directive 1, which demands human expansion across the solar system on a tight timeline.
Vice President Mike Pence said of Space Policy Directive 1, “Under President Trump’s leadership, America will lead in space once again on all fronts. As the president has said, space is the ‘next great American frontier’ – and it is our duty – and our destiny – to settle that frontier with American leadership, courage and values.”
The Outer Space Treaty, which the U.S. signed in 1967, says “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind,” and “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
What Do You Think?
Do you think space is the ‘next great American frontier,’ or do you believe that statement to be in violation of the Outer Space Treaty?