Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – In another do over of all things Obama, the Trump administration has announced that NASA will definitely land American astronauts on the Moon before heading over to Mars.
Vice-President Mike Pence made the announcement reversing the Obama Administration’s plan to land on Mars first, and bypass the Moon completely.
“We will return American astronauts to the Moon — not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” said Pence said during a meeting of the newly revived National Space Council (NSC).
NSC is a formally dormant executive group aimed at guiding the U.S. space agenda.
With the detour to the Moon, NASA now intends to land Americans on an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s. The new Moon mission or missions will likely be an all NASA show as private space companies like SpaceX and Lockheed Martin are in a race to land the first humans on the Red Planet.
NASA will have the hardware to reach the Moon, however. Its new heavy lift rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS) and a manned spacecraft called Orion—were originally designed to fly to Mars. Repurposing these machines for Moon missions will be a far easier challenge than preparing them to get to Mars.
Then there’s the problem of having enough money for the upcoming Moon missions and that means getting Congress to set aside funds for the venture.
“With the upcoming budget process, we will look to solidify this work with our new goals in place,” said acting NASA administrator, Robert Lightfoot.
America’s return to the Moon remains aspirational, however.
The last Americans, and humans, to land on the Moon were the crew of Apollo 17. On Dec. 11, 1972, Commander Eugene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt became the last two Americans of the Apollo program to land on the Moon.
While Cernan and Smith spent three days on the lunar surface Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans continued circling the Moon.
Apollo 17 broke several records: the longest moon landing; longest total extravehicular activities (moonwalks); largest lunar sample and longest time in lunar orbit.
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