NASA hopes to accelerate its efforts to explore space – with an aim to send astronauts to Mars by 2033, said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
The new goal could be made possible by NASA’s new mission to explore the moon by 2024 – giving the space agency an opportunity to test new technologies.
NASA’s budget includes a new ‘Lunar Gateway’ space station which will orbit the moon by the mid-2020s.
NASA initially planned to put people on the moon by 2028, but the Trump administration suggested a new deadline of 2024.
Mike Pence said last month, ‘Some will say it’s too hard, it’s too risky, it’s too expensive. But the same was said back in 1962.’
Jim Bridenstine told a Congressional hearing, ‘We can move up the Mars landing by moving up the moon landing (to 2024).
‘We need to learn how to live and work in another world. 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.’
Committee chair Eddie Bernice Johnson said that he, ‘would like America to continue to strive to achieve the challenging and inspiring goal of landing astronauts on Mars, and if the Moon is an essential interim step, then I would support going there too.
‘However, I am not prepared to cannibalise the rest of NASA’s program or force the agency into taking foolhardy risks or making short-sighted plans simply to meet an arbitrary deadline.’