NASA chief see moon missions as 'railroad' to Mars

NASA's new chief sees the moon missions as "railroads" to Mars, and claims that both missions are complementary initiatives.
By Tyler MacDonald | May 09, 2018
Jim Bridenstine made his first address as NASA administrator, making it a point to defend the agency's new directive to go to the moon before Mars, according to Space.com. He claims that the Mars and moon are complementary initiatives, and suggests that the moon missions will set the stage for Mars missions.

"If some of you are concerned that the coming focus is the moon, don't be," Bridenstine said. "We're doing both the moon and Mars in tandem, and the missions are supportive of each other. Our return to the surface of the moon will allow us to prove and advance technologies that will feed forward to Mars."

The technologies he speaks of include surface mobility, surface habitation, precision landing, and long-duration life support systems.

Bridenstine believes that the key to success in these missions is to encourage commercial players to continue beyond low Earth orbit into deeper space, comparing the situation to the 1800s, when America's West was difficult to take advantage of economically.

The upcoming Mars 2020 rover missions will focus on the discovery of habitable environments, which includes caching samples for possible return to Earth. Bridenstine also added that NASA's forthcoming Space Launch System rocket and the Orion deep-space spacecraft will be important pieces of the plan to "explore where an economy does not exist."

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