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NASA plans to land woman, and next man, on moon by 2024; it just needs $3.2 billion

An artist's rendering of what a prolonged Moon mission could look like. NASA has announced a game plan for landing astronauts, including the first woman, back on the moon in 2024, for the first time since the last Apollo mission in 1972. (NASA/TNS)

NASA has announced in a $28 million plan that in 2024 a woman and man will land on the moon for the first time since the last Apollo lunar mission in 1972.

The move is in line with its mandate to establish sustainable space exploration by the end of this decade, the agency said Monday, laying out its plan in a 74-page opus.

All it needs is $3.2 billion more to build a landing system there, BBC News reported.

“With bipartisan support from Congress, our 21st century push to the Moon is well within America’s reach,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement. “As we’ve solidified more of our exploration plans in recent months, we’ve continued to refine our budget and architecture. We’re going back to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new a generation of explorers. As we build up a sustainable presence, we’re also building momentum toward those first human steps on the Red Planet.”

Before we get to Mars, though, NASA plans to start relatively small. And it needs a few more billion dollars.

A series of test flight missions will be conducted this fall, and as soon as 2021, NASA plans to send robotic missions to the moon via commercial delivery services, landing “dozens of new science investigations and technology demonstrations to the Moon twice per year beginning in 2021.”

The mission is called Artemis, and it’s divided into stages I, II and III. Phase I will culminate in moon stays of as long as seven days, NASA said. Among other tasks, they’ll seek resources that will enable them to conduct ever deeper explorations.

“Throughout the Artemis program, robots and humans will search for, and potentially extract, resources such as water that can be converted into other usable resources, including oxygen and fuel, NASA said. “By fine-tuning precision landing technologies as well as developing new mobility capabilities, astronauts will travel farther distances and explore new regions of the Moon.”

The longer-term hope is to use a moon base as a jumping-off point for “the next giant leap — sending astronauts to Mars,” NASA said.


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