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.
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.
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.