Readout: International Astronautical Congress (Day 4)

Building on the growing international support for NASA’s Artemis program, agency leaders continued their bilateral discussions with world leaders on the fourth day of the 70th International Astronautical Conference in Washington.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine began Thursday with a meeting with President Jean-Yves Le Gall of France’s space agency the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) to discuss French support for bilateral and European cooperation in human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Following their meeting, Bridenstine and Le Gall signed an update to an agreement for cooperation between the agencies on the U.S.-France Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. SWOT will create the first global survey of Earth’s surface water, which will help us better understand our freshwater resources. Set to launch in 2021, SWOT is the latest in a series of ocean altimetry missions resulting from U.S.-France cooperation.

Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), left, shakes hands with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine after signing an amendment to the Surface Water and Ocean Topography Mission agreement at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 24, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Bridenstine also met with Israel Space Agency Director Avigdor Blasberger to discuss areas of mutual cooperation and future exploration plans. Israel, together with the German Aerospace Center, is developing a vest for human exploration. The vests will be flight-tested on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission.

Israel Space Agency Director Avi Blasberger, second from right, meets with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, second from left, during the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 24, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Polish Space Agency (POLSA) also expressed its support for the Artemis program by signing a joint statement with Bridenstine focused on strengthening cooperation between the United States and Poland. Through ESA (European Space Agency), Poland has been involved in plans for elements of the lunar Gateway.

Michal Szaniawski, president of the Polish Space Agency (POLSA), left, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine shake hands after signing a joint statement expressing their intent to discuss opportunities for cooperation, including sustainable activities around and on the Moon in connection with NASA’s Artemis program, Oct. 24, 2019, during the 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Bridenstine held a media availability in the late morning at the NASA exhibit, where he took questions from national and international reporters. The administrator answered questions on a wide range of topics including future robotic missions to the Moon and Mars, to the selection of Artemis astronauts.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine answers questions during a media availability at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 24, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Representatives from the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), which recently sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station, met with Bridenstine to discuss possible opportunities for UAE astronauts to train in the United States, as well as commercial industry activity in low-Earth orbit, the space between Earth and the Moon, and on Mars.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, meets with United Arab Emirates Space Agency Director General Mohamed Al Ahbabi, right, during the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 24, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

In the afternoon, Bridenstine spoke at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition finals, hosted by the International Institute of Space Law, where law students – with support from NASA’s Office of General Counsel and Office of STEM Engagement – participate in a hypothetical legal case.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gives remarks during the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition finals Oct. 24, 2019, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Readout: International Astronautical Congress (Day 3)

For the first time in almost two decades, IAC was held in the United States, providing a great opportunity for NASA employees from all over the country to showcase the agency’s impact on science and discovery.

On the third day of IAC, hundreds of NASA employees wearing NASA blue gathered for a group photo to kick off the day. The theme of NASA’s involvement this year focuses on Artemis and working with our international partners to achieve our goals.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to agency employees as they gather for a group picture at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 23, 2019, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

At a meeting with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Bridenstine discussed Canada’s commitment to the lunar Gateway with CSA President Sylvain Laporte and senior Canadian officials. Canada was the first international partner to commit to the Gateway and has been coordinating with NASA to provide external robotics.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard, and Ken Bowersox, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, meet with Sylvain Laporte, president of the Canadian Space Agency, at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 23, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Bridenstine also participated in the Young Professionals Town Hall, which brought together early career space professionals from around the world. The administrator discussed NASA’s plans and priorities, and how young people can become involved in Artemis, and answered questions from the crowd. 

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is seen during the Global Networking Forum Young Professionals Town Hall at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 23, 2019, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is an important international partner for NASA, and in a meeting today, leaders of the agencies had a lengthy discussion on ongoing and future cooperation in aeronautics and science. They also talked about potential DLR contributions to the Artemis program bilaterally and through ESA (European Space Agency) and noted the critical importance of the European Service Modules for Orion, which are being developed in Germany.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, is seen during a meeting with Sylvain Laporte, president of the Canadian Space Agency, at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 23, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Italian Space Agency (ASI) President Giorgio Saccoccia signed a joint statement with Bridenstine that acknowledged the strong mutual cooperation between the agencies and identifies areas of potential future cooperation for the Artemis program. The NASA-ASI partnership provides potential for industry cooperation in support of Artemis. 

Giorgio Saccoccia, head of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), left, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine shake hands after signing a joint statement acknowledging the strong ongoing cooperation between the agencies, and identifying areas of potential future cooperation on and around the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 23, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement hosted a live broadcast entitled “STEM and Space: Where Do You Fit In?” The goal of the event was to bring IAC to students in the United States and around the globe who are pursuing undergraduate and graduate STEM studies and interested in learning about opportunities in the space sector. Bridenstine participated alongside NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Jeanette Epps, former NASA astronaut Sandy Magnus, and other senior NASA officials.

 

Readout: International Astronautical Congress (Day 2)

For Administrator Bridenstine’s second day at the 70th International Astronautical Congress focused on continuing to broaden our international partnerships. Many space agencies and nations are represented at IAC, and NASA is maximizing the opportunity to meet with those space agencies who have an interest in partnering with us on the Artemis program and our journey to Mars.

In the morning, Bridenstine and a delegation of NASA officials met with Thomas Jarzombek, federal government coordinator of German aerospace policy at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and senior officials from ESA (European Space Agency). The meeting focused on German support for NASA-ESA collaboration on the International Space Station, European service modules and lunar Gateway.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, poses for a photo with Thomas Jarzombek, federal government coordinator of German aerospace policy at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, during the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 22, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

A meeting was also held with ESA (European Space Agency) Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner to solidify support for Artemis and contributions from Europe. Topics such as the significance of Europe’s human exploration plans and support for the upcoming ESA ministerial meeting were on the agenda. 

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, third from right, and Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard, fourth from right, speak with Professor Johann-Dietrich Worner, Director General of ESA (European Space Agency), fourth from left, during the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 22, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The administrator also convened a meeting of senior leaders from more than 25 international space agencies to discuss the future of human exploration, during which NASA presented a vision and plans for Artemis and missions to Mars.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks during a multilateral meeting of the heads of space agencies at the 70th International Astronautical Congress, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Bridenstine and leaders from the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) signed a joint statement that highlights areas of mutual interest, such as lunar exploration and calls for the establishment of a new framework agreement between the two agencies. Marc Serres, chief executive officer of LSA, led the meeting with Bridenstine, focusing on the International Space Station, Orion, Gateway, and Mars sample return. 

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, and Dr. Marc Serres, chief executive officer, Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), left, shake hands after signing an agreement while the Honorable James Randolph Evans, Ambassador to the Grant Duchy of Luxembourg, back right, and Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister, back left, observed at the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 22, 2019 in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

 

Readout: International Astronautical Congress (Day 1)

Administrator Jim Bridenstine kicked off the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C., the morning of Oct. 20 with a keynote speech at the 70th IAC’s Members of Parliaments meeting. Bridenstine joined representatives from ESA (European Space Agency), France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) to discuss the challenges and opportunities emerging in space exploration, as well as share information about NASA’s Artemis program with parliamentarians from around the world.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks at the Members of Parliament meeting at the 70th International Astronautical Congress’s Members of Parliaments meeting. Photo Credit: NASA/Matthew Rydin

Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard joined senior space agency officials for a dinner the evening of Oct. 20, prior to the kickoff of the conference. Countries and space programs represented were Japan, Germany, UAE, Brazil, France and Russia, as well as the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. 

On Monday, Oct. 21, the IAC opening ceremony featured speeches by international dignitaries and a cultural and entertainment program for thousands of attendees from around the world. Bridenstine gave a speech on America’s impact on humanity’s progress in space and introduced Vice President Mike Pence, who delivered remarks on the outstanding contributions the United States has made in space exploration. 

Later in the day, the IAF World Space Award was presented to the Apollo 11 crew, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. Watch the opening ceremony here.

Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks during the opening ceremony of the 70th International Astronautical Congress, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Following the opening ceremony, Bridenstine participated in a Heads of Agency Plenary Session. He was joined by his counterparts from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Russian space agency Roscosmos, ESA and JAXA. The theme of the plenary was “Space Agencies: Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing Space Environment.” Watch the plenary here.

Pascale Ehrenfreund, incoming president of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), left, and current IAF President Jean-Yves Le Gall, second from left, facilitate a panel with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Johann-Dietrich Woerner, director general of ESA (European Space Agency), Hiroshi Yamakawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Sylvain Laporte, president of the Canadian Space Agency, Sergey Krikalev, executive director of Piloted Spaceflights for the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and S. Somanath, director of the Indian Space Research Organization’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, for the Heads of Agency Plenary of the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 21, 2019, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Following the Heads of Agency Plenary session, senior officials from Japan, Canada, Russia, ESA, and India joined Bridenstine for a press conference, which you can watch here

Hiroshi Yamakawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is seen during the Heads of Agency press conference of the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 21, 2019, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Later in the afternoon, Bridenstine met with students from around the world for the International Space Education Board Heads of Agency Interactive Session, taking questions from the students and discussing the importance of STEM education.

As a follow-up to the joint statement of intent signed by the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and NASA last month, and the announcement by  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to commit $150 million (Australian dollars) for cooperation with NASA on the Artemis program, Bridenstine met with Karen Andrews, Australian Minister of Parliament and Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. They discussed implementing the funding for Artemis and other future opportunities for ASA-NASA cooperation.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks with the Karen Andrews, Australian Minister of Parliament and Minister of Industry, Science and Technology, during the 70th International Astronautical Congress Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

 

Why We’re Going to the Moon

When discussing plans to explore the Moon under our Artemis program, I often get asked a lot of “why” questions. As in – why go back to the Moon and not somewhere else? Why now? Why NASA? Or even, why explore at all?

There are many reasons to go back, or as you may have heard me say, go forward to the Moon. With Artemis, we’re going to explore more of the Moon than ever before, and this time, we’re planning to stay. We are traveling 250,000 miles to the Moon to demonstrate new technologies, capabilities and business approaches needed for future exploration of Mars, which can be as far as 250 million miles away from home.

With Mars as our horizon goal, we need to take steps to get there, and the Moon is the next logical one. Today, our astronauts are living 250 miles above us in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station – something we’ve continued to do for almost 20 years. This is an incredible feat for humanity and international cooperation. If there’s an emergency on station though, we can have our crew home in a matter of hours. On and around the Moon, we will build on our experiences from station and learn to live and work days away from Earth. We need this step before we send astronauts on a mission to Mars, which can take years round-trip.

Science and technology will lead us there

We have successfully explored the Moon robotically for many years since humans last walked on the surface in 1972. We want to take what we’ve learned from missions like the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and couple that knowledge with new science investigations and technology demonstrations in new locations across the Moon.

Working with our partners, we will send a suite of new instruments to the lunar surface on commercial robotic landers to study the Moon and prepare for our human return. Our goal is to send the first woman and next man somewhere we’ve never been before: the lunar South Pole. We’re targeting this area for a landing by 2024 because we believe it is rich in potential resources including water. Finding those resources, successfully extracting them, and ultimately converting them into other uses will help us further our exploration into the solar system.

As we did with Apollo, we hope our exploration of the Moon will inspire a new generation – the Artemis generation – and encourage more students to pursue careers in STEM. We will need astronauts, scientists, engineers, and more as we push boundaries for humanity and explore the vast wonders of our universe for decades to come.

With our Artemis program, we will once again establish American leadership and a strategic presence on the Moon while also expanding our global impact here on Earth. Since we’re not going alone this time, we’ll use the Moon to broaden and strengthen our commercial and international partnershipsacross a variety of programs. Our partnerships are critical to ensuring we reach the surface by 2024 and establish sustainable exploration by 2028. Together, we will get ready to explore Mars in the 2030s.

Again, there are many reasons to go to the Moon, and these are the main drivers for why NASA is going. Need more info? In our latest episode of #AskNASA, Jim Green, the chief scientist here at NASA explains from his point of view why we are going, talks more about converting the ice in the poles into drinkable water and rocket fuel, and more. Take a look!

 

Readout: NASA Administrator Bridenstine’s Visit to Japan (Day 2)

On Wednesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine continued his visit to Japan with a meeting hosted by 20 Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet members at the LDP Headquarters in Tokyo. The purpose of the visit was to brief key Japanese Diet members about the agency’s current activities and plans for future human space exploration. Following his remarks, the administrator answered questions from Diet members.

Watch Administrator Bridenstine’s speech to LDP members.

Following Bridenstine’s visit to LDP Headquarters, he participated in a press conference at the headquarters of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Tokyo with JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa.

Bridenstine noted the exceptional international cooperation that currently exists on the International Space Station, highlighting Japan’s significant contributions to the program and congratulating JAXA on the recent successful launch of the of the HTV resupply vehicle.

Bridenstine reiterated NASA’s strong interest in enhancing cooperation with JAXA and highlighted its potential to play a critical role in the Artemis program, NASA’S innovative and sustainable exploration program, beginning with a mission to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

Watch the joint NASA-JAXA press conference.

The administrator then delivered a keynote at a luncheon of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan entitled Commercial Partnerships in Space Exploration. His remarks focused on the importance of NASA’s efforts in enabling a commercial marketplace in space.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan on Sept. 25, 2019.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan on Sept. 25, 2019.

After the luncheon, Bridenstine held a meeting with Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary to the Prime Minister of Japan, and Hiroto Izumi, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan. The meeting focused on the 60-year history of space cooperation between the United States and Japan and the many areas in which Japan can make significant contributions to the Artemis program. The meeting was held at the official residence of the Japanese prime minister.

NASA Administrator Bridenstine presents a gift to Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary to the prime minister of Japan, on Sept. 25, 2019 at the Japanese prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo.
NASA Administrator Bridenstine presents a gift to Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary to the prime minister of Japan, on Sept. 25, 2019 at the Japanese prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo.

Later in the afternoon, Bridenstine met with Minister of Justice Katsuyuki Kawai, who is a long-time advocate within the government of Japan of U.S.-Japan cooperation in space exploration. They discussed U.S.-Japan human space flight cooperation, including the future of the space station and the important role Japan can play in the Artemis program.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is greeted on Sept. 25, 2019 by Katsuyuki Kawai, Minister of Justice for Japan.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is greeted on Sept. 25, 2019 by Katsuyuki Kawai, Minister of Justice for Japan.

The final meeting Wednesday was with Hiroaki Okuchi, Toyota President of Advanced R&D and Engineering Company. Okuchi briefed Bridenstine on a joint JAXA-Toyota pressurized lunar rover concept. Recognizing the importance that a lunar rover could have in supporting the Artemis program, JAXA is using toyota’s experience in automotive design to assess the technical feasibility of developing a pressurized lunar rover.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa and Toyota representative Hiroaki Okuchi meet at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Tokyo on Sept. 25, 2019.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa and Toyota representative Hiroaki Okuchi meet at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Tokyo on Sept. 25, 2019.

Readout: NASA Administrator Bridenstine’s Visit to Japan (Day 1)

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine arrived in Tokyo Monday, Sept. 23, to hold discussions on the agency’s Artemis program with key Japanese government officials and sign a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration.

Bridenstine was greeted by the Charge d’ Affaires ad interim, Joseph Young, at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. They spoke at length about NASA’s plan to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and the strategic partnership the United States and Japan enjoy in space activities. Young emphasized that the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo will work diligently to help cement Japan’s involvement in Artemis.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Charge d’ Affaires ad interim Joseph Young at the U.S. Embassy in Japan.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Charge d’ Affaires ad interim Joseph Young at the U.S. Embassy in Japan.

Later in the morning, Bridenstine was interviewed by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

Following the interview, Bridenstine met with Hiroshi Yamakawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), to discuss future bilateral cooperation and JAXA’s potential participation in NASA’s Artemis program. They identified several areas in which the United States and Japan can extend scientific and technological cooperation to advance sustainable exploration of the Moon, including on the lunar Gateway and the Moon’s surface.

They also discussed the possibility of NASA collaboration on JAXA’s Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) mission, and JAXA’s plans to launch CubeSats on NASA’s Artemis I mission. Read the Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration online at https://global.jaxa.jp/press/2019/09/20190924a.html.

Hiroshi Yamakawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sign a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration Sept. 24, 2019, in Tokyo.
Hiroshi Yamakawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sign a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration Sept. 24, 2019, in Tokyo.

Following the signing of the joint statement with JAXA, Bridenstine met with Koichi Hagiuda, minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology – the parent ministry of JAXA – to discuss Japan’s participation on the Gateway and Artemis lunar surface activities.

Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Minister Koichi Hagiuda in Tokyo.
Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Koichi Hagiuda, minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, met Sept. 24, 2019, in Tokyo to discuss Japan’s potential role in Artemis.

In the afternoon, Bridenstine met with Naokazu Takemoto, Minister of State for Space Policy. Bridenstine briefed Takemoto on the progress NASA has made in developing the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft and lunar Gateway. They also had an in-depth conversation on space policy and the importance of expanding cooperation between the United States and Japan in space activities.Following the meeting with Takemoto, Bridenstine conducted two media interviews with NHK and NIKKEI.Later in the afternoon, Bridenstine held a meeting with Yoshiyuki Kasai, chairman of the Space Policy Commission (SPC) of Japan. They discussed the strategic importance of ongoing and future cooperation in space, including NASA’s Artemis program. The SPC is an external advisory body made up of members from the private sector and academia that provides advice on space matters directly to Japan’s prime minister.

The final event of the day was a speaking engagement at the University of Tokyo, where Bridenstine spoke to approximately 300 students and members of the media about the Artemis program and the importance of international partnerships in the U.S.-led effort to return to the Moon by 2024. Following his speech, he took questions from students on topics ranging from how Japan will contribute to the Gateway and lunar surface activities to NASA’s efforts to send humans to Mars.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to students at the University of Tokyo Sept. 24, 2019.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to students at the University of Tokyo Sept. 24, 2019.

What is the Artemis Generation?

It’s hard to believe it was only six months ago that NASA was called to accelerate our plans to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, and establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028. In doing so, we also accelerated our plans for our next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

We committed to making these goals a reality, and soon after, I announced the name for our efforts: the Artemis program.

Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo, and a goddess of the Moon. And she now personifies our path forward in more ways than one. With the Artemis program, we will land the first woman and next man on the Moon. Many have asked why we’re focused on sending the first woman. And I often say because it is about time! Our astronauts represent the best of us, and to do so, we must be able to see ourselves among them.

Today, our astronaut corps is diverse. Based on education and professional experience, millions of American women and men are eligible to apply to be NASA astronauts. Only a handful though are selected from each application class. In addition to pilots, astronauts today have a variety of backgrounds in STEM – they are doctors, geologists, biologists and more.

As the father of a young girl, it’s important my daughter can look to the stars and see herself in the face of the first woman to go the Moon. Whether or not she grows up to be a doctor and ultimately an astronaut, she needs to see that it is possible. I believe our astronaut corps today gives her that confidence. Like me and you, she is a part of the Artemis generation.

Not since Apollo has there been this much momentum to return to the lunar surface. Many other nations are interested in the Moon so this time, we’re not going alone. With Artemis, we will go forward to explore the Moon and beyond with innovative commercial and international partners.

And we will go to the Moon this time using modern technology and systems in ways that will allow us to return time and time again. This too is different with the Artemis generation – we will see long-term robotic and human exploration of our nearest neighbor. Then we will take what we learn at the Moon, and head to Mars.

#AskNASA

In the coming weeks, we will highlight more of our Artemis plans. We’re starting with the basics – answering questions such as Why are we going back to the Moon? How do we get there? And finally, who is going with us?

We’ll address these questions and more with a fun, new digital series called #AskNASA. If you have a question about the Moon and Mars, or really, anything you want to know about our agency, send it our way. Submit questions on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA or online using our webform.

We look forward to answering your questions. In doing so, we’re hoping to inform and inspire you…the Artemis generation.

Moon to Mars: Seeing Progress First-Hand

This week I had the pleasure of visiting NASA facilities in Louisiana and Alabama, where we are developing and manufacturing our powerful Space Launch System (SLS). This rocket will send astronauts aboard our Orion spacecraft to the Gateway under the Artemis program. Our new deep space transportation system is the backbone for lunar surface exploration and will pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

My first stop was NASA’s rocket factory, the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where we’re manufacturing the massive core stage for SLS. The core stage houses the avionics and computers for flight and stores the systems and fuel that will feed the rocket’s engines.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to media and employees at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Aug. 15, 2019, about progress on the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and the Artemis program.

It’s one thing to talk about progress, but another to see real flight hardware in person. The current unfinished SLS core stage is around 190-feet-long. And wow, is it impressive to see up close. Soon, its assembly will be complete and it will be a staggering 212 feet high, with a diameter of more than 27 feet.

Media saw both flight and test hardware, and we discussed the significant progress made to the core stage for the Artemis 1 mission. When we finish adding the last section, the engine section and the four RS-25 engines later this year, we’ll be ready for the green run test. After that, the first SLS will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with Orion and their first flight test around the Moon. Our launch date remains under review for this mission while we search for new leaders in our human spaceflight programs, but every day of progress brings us one more day closer to launch.

During our tour at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, I was joined by U.S. Representatives Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee. At this stop, I announced this center, working with future commercial partners and experts from other centers, will lead development of a new Human Landing System Program. Staged from the Gateway in lunar orbit, this system will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

On Aug. 16, 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will lead the Human Landing System Program. Bridenstine was joined by Representatives Mo Brooks and Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Representative Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee. The announcement was made in front of the 149-foot-tall SLS liquid hydrogen structural test article, currently being tested to help ensure the structure can safely launch astronauts on the Artemis lunar missions.

We focus on a ‘One NASA’ integrated approach that uses technical capabilities across many centers. Marshall has the right combination of expertise and experience to accomplish this critical piece of the mission, with support from other centers. NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for example, manages other human spaceflight programs for deep space including the Gateway and Orion, but our Artemis program and Mars goals wouldn’t be possible without each of our centers providing their unique capabilities to the effort.

Our SLS, Orion, and human landing system progress are important to accelerating our return to the Moon. As is development of the first phase of the Gateway. As you may know, we awarded a contract to Maxar Technologies to design, develop, launch and demonstrate the power and propulsion element by 2022, which is managed out of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio. We are also working to develop another module of the Gateway, the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO), which NASA Johnson will work with a commercial partner to design and develop.

Following feedback from industry on our draft human lander solicitation, which closed earlier this month, we are targeting a formal request for lander proposals by the end of summer, and targeting awards by the end of this year to design, develop and demonstrate this system.

Finally, we will also release a solicitation for American companies to deliver supplies to the lunar outpost that support the 2024 Moon landing, and supplies for future sustainable lunar exploration. The logistics efforts will be led out of NASA Kennedy, which as I mentioned before, is where we launch SLS and Orion from a modernized spaceport on Artemis missions to deep space.

I’m incredibly proud of our teams at Marshall, Michoud, and all across the agency, on their response to the President’s call to quickly return to the Moon. I know our workforce can meet all the technical challenges of this bold goal.

As for my part, I will continue to work with all of our stakeholders, including you, the American public, on securing confidence and the $1.6 billion investment we need for a successful Artemis program.

Again, I had a great visit to Louisiana and Alabama this week. I especially appreciated the support shown by our representatives in Congress. NASA is going forward to the Moon, and getting ready for our next giant leap – Mars. This is an incredible time in human spaceflight, and we are proud to once again be leading the way.

Artemis is Our Future

Last week, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing. We weren’t just looking backward though.

As part of our current Artemis lunar exploration program, we published a draft solicitation asking U.S. industry to think about how they would build an integrated human landing system that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in the next five years.

If you’re wondering why NASA doesn’t simply dust off the Apollo lander designs to put humans on the Moon by 2024, you’re not alone. Yes, we had a highly successful Moon program in the past in which we won the space race, but we have new goals for Artemis, which is a stepping stone for Mars.

When we go forward to the Moon, we want the ability to land anywhere on the lunar surface anytime we want. To do so, we need a modern landing system that we can reuse, refuel and refurbish in space.  That system will be staged at the Gateway in lunar orbit – our command module to support robotic and human exploration on the lunar surface, and missions farther into the solar system.

Illustration of a human landing system on the lunar surface.
Illustration of a human landing system on the lunar surface. Credit: NASA

We will accelerate our return to the Moon by 2024 and establish a foundation for a sustainable human presence by 2028. NASA is leading that charge with meaningful contributions from our commercial and international partners. We are building spacecraft to internationally agreed standards so that when our partners begin sending their own lunar systems, we’ll be ready for them. Apollo didn’t allow for that, but with Artemis, it is a core principle. Together, we will use the Moon to validate human safety protocols, technologies, and operational procedures before embarking on the ultimate human destination: Mars.

Exploring More of the Moon

Apollo’s primary goal was to win the space race: to be the first on the Moon; to plant flags and footprints. All six landings occurred at the equatorial region because the command modules were designed to operate in that specific orbit, for one mission. Those six landing sites span about 6% of the Moon’s surface.

This time, when we go to the Moon, the Gateway will make it possible to access any region of the lunar surface, from pole to pole, from near side to far side. We will learn to use the Moon’s resources to reduce the amount of supplies we need to send from Earth, and build systems to common standards, so that contributors across the globe may seamlessly join our endeavor.

Higher safety standards

Astronaut safety has always been a top priority for NASA, but we took many unknown risks with early lunar exploration. We know much more about the Moon now than we did in the 1960s, so we can address these risks technically and operationally.

For instance, during Apollo, our greatest concern with soil was that the lander would sink into the soil, or that crew would step onto the surface and sink down to their shoulders like falling in a snowdrift. We now understand our greater risk from dust is actually how inhaling the small sharp, glass-like dust particles can lodge in the lungs creating acute and long-term risks to astronaut health. Through work with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – which opened at the very end of Apollo in 1971 – we now have standards for particulate size, and how long we can breathe specific compositions.

In some cases, NASA established its own safety standards, but many of those standards, such as atmospheric concentrations of carbo dioxide, are now debated with other experts. Apollo systems were designed to maintain breathing air with up to 1% carbon dioxide, but today’s human health experts recommend 0.25%.

Lighter, smarter technologies

As a Navy pilot, I would cherish the opportunity fly a vintage plane, but I certainly would not choose it over today’s newer aircraft for a flight around the world. That said, in 2005, a team of NASA engineers met with some of the Grumman veterans who built the Apollo landers just to see what they would do with current technologies. The engineers conducted a study and re-designed the Apollo landers. Based on technologies that are now 15 years old, they brought the overall spacecraft mass down by about a ton, mostly because of lighter avionics and batteries.

Today, we have even lighter, and certainly smarter, technologies, so imagine what we will do with a 21st century refresh.

Investing in NASA

We now have a robust industrial base of spacecraft suppliers. New partnerships and other affordability options are considered at every level of Artemis technical and programmatic planning. In the 1960s, NASA essentially had to start from scratch, developing the Saturn rocket, and sending astronauts into space incrementally through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs – at a cost of 5% of the nation’s discretionary budget. At the moment, we’re waiting for Congress to approve the President’s budget amendment, which includes the additional funds we need as a down payment on this bold goal. And like Apollo, we expect the national investment in NASA to pay dividends on our economy and technologies for generations to come.

For future exploration, we will entrust only the most modern systems to keep our astronauts safe. We will incorporate state-of-the-art technologies – some born of Apollo and matured over the past 50 years.

We are grateful for the Apollo generation that came before us – for the bold vision, for the unforeseen technological boom that led to miniaturized technologies, and for the inspiration that gave birth to a new era of dreamers, tinkerers, scientists, artists, and engineers.

We’re ready to explore the Moon again – this time with advanced technologies, modern spacecraft, and more access than ever before. We will use what we learn at the Moon, and ultimately take our next giant leap, sending astronauts to Mars.

We are the Artemis generation, and we’re going to the Moon and beyond. Are you ready?