Status Report

Report: NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development

By SpaceRef Editor
April 3, 2020
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The Moon is the gateway to the solar system. A world equivalent to an entire continent that human feet have touched only a few times. As Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor, the Moon has profound potential to be a source of new scientific advances and economic growth. It is also the best place for us to test our deep space systems and operations in preparation for the first human mission to another planet: Mars. Over the next decade, the Artemis program will lay the foundation for a sustained long-term presence on the lunar surface and use the Moon to validate deep space systems and operations before embarking on the much farther voyage to Mars.

Over the coming decades and generations, our presence will grow to use and develop the extensive resources of the Moon, including its water and metal deposits. As the Moon unveils her secrets, scientific interest continues to grow. In addition to enabling scientific understanding of the formation of the Earth and the solar system through lunar geology and chemistry, exploration of the Moon will enable ground-breaking scientific discoveries about the universe, including through radio astronomy from the incredible vantage point of the far side of the Moon. As in the skies and now low-Earth orbit, NASA’s scientific and exploration efforts lead the way and economic development follows. The Artemis program will similarly enable commercial opportunities on the lunar surface, beginning with the first U.S commercial lunar deliveries next year.

The Moon is more than a physical destination. A core focus of Artemis is to extend the nation’s geo-strategic and economic sphere to encompass the Moon with international partners and private industry. The United States will build confidence among its commercial, U.S. government, and international partners by leading the development of clear policy principles to support civil space exploration with an initial emphasis on the Artemis program.  Specifically, the

U.S. will establish a predictable and safe process for the extraction and use of space resources under the auspices of the Outer Space Treaty.

This document covers and responds to the Chairman of the National Space Council’s direction to provide a plan for a sustained lunar presence, including the technologies and capabilities to enable the first human mission to Mars. For millennia humanity has looked at the Moon in wonder and awe. As the United States leads the development of a sustained presence on the Moon together with commercial partners and international partners, our presence on the Moon will serve as a constant reminder of the limitless potential of humanity. It will continue to inspire humanity as we seek ever more distant worlds to explore – starting with Mars.

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SpaceRef staff editor.