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?

Apollo 11 and NASA’s Plans Today for the Moon and Mars

As we look back on one of the signature accomplishments of humanity, NASA’s Apollo 11 Moon landing 50 years ago this Saturday, July 20, our view in hindsight has not dimmed this historic milestone or what it means for our future.

As President Nixon spoke to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon, he said, “Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man’s world … For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one; one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.”

Neil Armstrong’s one small step continues to propel humanity to ever greater heights. As the international leader in space for 60 years, NASA has achieved inspiring feats of exploration, discovery, science, and technology. We have changed the way the world flies, communicates, navigates, predicts weather, produces food and energy, and so much more.

Today, we’re implementing President Trump’s Space Policy Directive-1 to “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system.”

We have been charged by Vice President Pence on behalf of the President, to send the first woman and the next man to the lunar South Pole by 2024, and to “use all means necessary.” Under our Artemis program, we will go with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than was ever thought possible. This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay. And then we will use what we learn on the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars. This is America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

This work is unfolding right now with the contributions of every single NASA center, and every single discipline represented in our talented workforce.

We are going to the Moon with commercial and international partners to explore faster and explore more together. We will bring new knowledge and opportunities and inspire the next generation. The Moon will provide a proving ground to test our technologies and resources that will take us to Mars and beyond, including building a sustainable, reusable architecture. And, in going to the Moon, we are laying the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.

Our backbone for Artemis is the biggest rocket ever built, the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion spacecraft and the Gateway lunar command module.

We’re staying on schedule for flying the Artemis-1 mission with our Orion spacecraft on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket next year, and for sending the first crewed mission, Artemis-2, to the lunar vicinity by 2022.

Our charge for a national exploration campaign will use the experience of the NASA workforce, coupled with the innovation of our commercial and international partners, to create an architecture that is open, sustainable and agile to move forward to the Moon once again and then on to Mars. This unified effort will create and inspire the “Artemis generation,” and change the course of history as we realize the next great scientific, economic and technical achievements in space.

Our work is one endeavor with three unique destinations: low-Earth orbit, the Moon, and Mars. And we are building on the legacy of the pioneers at NASA – the brave women and men across the planet who helped us land 12 human beings on the lunar surface and bring them home safely. We are building on the success of commercial space around our planet and the vibrant opportunities is generates, even as we launch humanity once again to the lunar surface to do more science, explore more places, foster innovation, and inspire and engage partners around the world in the next chapter of our history.

As Apollo 11 made preparations for return, Buzz Aldrin said, “This has been far more than three men on a voyage to the Moon. More, still, than the efforts of a government and industry team. More, even, than the efforts of one nation. We feel that this stands as a symbol of the insatiable curiosity of all mankind to explore the unknown.”

Neil Armstrong in the crew’s final television transmission from space, said, “The responsibility for this flight lies first with history and with the giants of science who have preceded this effort. Next with the American people, who have through their will, indicated their desire. Next, to four administrations, and their Congresses, for implementing that will. And then, to the agency and industry teams that built our spacecraft, the Saturn, the Columbia, the Eagle, and the little EMU; the spacesuit and backpack that was our small spacecraft out on the lunar surface.” He thanked all the Americans who put “their hearts and all their abilities into those craft.”

Going forward, we again require the deep and broad support of every American, lawmakers, our innovative and growing aerospace base, and the many passionate professionals who will stake their careers and the future of our species on what we do next in space.

Apollo 11 lifted us all up, as space continues to do on countless fronts that improve our daily lives, even as we look with awe beyond the bounds of our planet.

Starting with the Artemis program and continuing on to Mars, we’re going to do more of the civilization changing human space exploration begun with Apollo 11, and we look forward to the good will and ideas, and the “hearts and abilities,” of people everywhere to chart this brave course.

 

Symposium Day 3: Partners in Inspiration

On the third day of the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, I held important bilateral meetings with the United Arab Emirates Space Agency and the German Aerospace Center. Our charge to explore the Moon, and make the next giant leap to Mars, will require strong international partnerships. The dialogue today helped clarify NASA’s plans and highlighted the interest from other space agencies in joining us on this incredible journey.

In a meeting with Dr. Mohamed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), we discussed NASA’s plans to move forward to the Moon and opportunities for UAESA participation in future lunar surface activities. We also discussed the UAESA’s plans to fly their first astronaut to the International Space Station later this year.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, second from left, speaks with the Director General of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA), Dr. Mohamed Al Ahbabi, second from right, about NASA’s plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024, UAESA’S human spaceflight objectives, and prospective cooperation involving the International Space Station and exploration of the Moon and Mars, at the Space Symposium, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

In the final meeting of the day, I met with Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund, Executive Board Chair of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). We spoke about the robust relationship between our agencies in human and robotic exploration and areas for cooperation as we pursue returning humans to the lunar surface in 2024. Professor Ehrenfreund was particularly excited about the opportunities we have to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders with stunning achievements in space exploration.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks with German Aerospace Center (DLR) executive board chair, Dr. Pascale Ehrenfreund, about the robust relationship between their agencies in human and robotic exploration, and prospects for cooperation as NASA pursues the landing of humans on the Moon by 2024, at the Space Symposium, Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Moving forward to the Moon is a global effort that will improve life for all of humanity, and NASA is leading this growing coalition of nations to raise the bar of human achievement.

Symposium Day 2: Forward to the Moon

We’ve accelerated NASA’s plans to reach the lunar surface, and I was happy to share our plans with an international audience today during a plenary session at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Fellow speakers included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, both of whom we’ve collaborated with to implement President Trump’s space policy directives.

Just two weeks ago at the meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence, on behalf of the president, charged NASA with landing American astronauts on the lunar South Pole in 2024, by any means necessary. It’s a directive from the very top and a once in a lifetime opportunity to advance human achievement.

We’ve already been working hard on a reusable, sustainable architecture to bring humans to the lunar surface. Our backbone for deep space exploration is our powerful Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion spacecraft and the lunar Gateway command module.

We celebrated the Space Foundation’s recognition of astronaut Tom Stafford with the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award. General Stafford has inspired an entire generation of space enthusiasts, scientists, engineers and astronauts. As he received his award, Gen. Stanford expressed his support for President Trump’s challenge to put humans on the Moon by 2024.

General Thomas Patten Stafford, former NASA astronaut, Air Force officer and test pilot speaks at an event where he received the General James E. Hill Lifetime Achievement Award, at the Space Symposium, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Broadmoor Hall in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Former and current NASA Administrators were in attendance. Photo credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

On day two of the Space Symposium, NASA coordinated a historic International Exploration Meeting with over twenty space agencies from around the world. The common thread was everyone’s excitement about moving forward to the Moon together. We will continue to mobilize support worldwide in pursuit of this goal.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gives remarks at an International Exploration meeting at the Space Symposium, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. NASA employees from NASA centers around the country were in attendance. Photo credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

I didn’t want to sign off without mentioning the amazing NASA exhibit at the Space Symposium. Our people are doing a tremendous job telling the NASA story, and the imagery, models and hands-on activities look outstanding. I’m so proud of the experience we are providing for the thousands of patrons attending the symposium.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tours the NASA exhibit at the Space Symposium, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Broadmoor Hall in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Now is the right time to move forward to the Moon. We will go with our commercial and international partners, and together we will go farther than ever before. We will prove out the technologies that will take us to Mars and inspire the next generation of explorers in the process. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and we the people of NASA are ready.

Symposium Day 1: We Return To The Moon, But We Won’t Do It Alone

When President Donald Trump charged NASA with returning to the Moon, he specified that we partner with industry and other nations to make it possible. Today, on the first day of the 35thSpace Symposium in Colorado we continue our commitment to work with innovative partners as we chart our path forward to the moon in 2024.

The Space Symposium provided me and the NASA team a unique opportunity for dialogue, as it is the first major international public forum to discuss President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s 2024 moon challenge.  Earlier today I met with several members of the international community to discuss our lunar exploration plans and reiterated NASA’s commitment to move forward to the Moon with strong international collaboration.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, fifth from left, speaks with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President, Hiroshi Yamakawa, second from right, about opportunities to work together in human and robotic exploration at the lunar surface and around the Moon, at the Space Symposium, Monday, April 8, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They also discussed the two agencies’ asteroid sample return missions, OSIRIS-REx AND Hayabusa-2, and how they are looking forward to sharing the data and results from those missions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

NASA’s leadership in low-Earth orbit through the International Space Station (ISS) has created a multi-national space community and fostered an ever-growing commercial space industry. The ISS is an innovation laboratory which has helped NASA pioneer a new private space sector. We are now working on translating these relationships and victories to deep space and the Moon.

In a meeting with Johann-Dietrich Wörner, director general of European Space Agency (ESA), and his team, we highlighted ESA’s and America’s successful collaboration on the ISS, and reviewed plans for the service module for the Orion spacecraft that will take us to the Moon and beyond. We reviewed our new expedited schedule and the key role ESA and the European Service Module will have in achieving those goals. We also discussed future robotic missions to the lunar surface and Mars.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, poses with Johann-Dietrich Wörner, director general of ESA (European Space Agency), just before meeting to discuss NASA’s plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024 and prospective collaboration in human and robotic lunar and Mars exploration activities, at the Space Symposium, Monday, April 8, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, They also discussed their continued successful cooperation on the International Space Station and the service module for the Orion spacecraft that will take us to the Moon and beyond. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

During our meeting with Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and his delegation, we shared our commitment to the ISS and discussed additional opportunities on and around the Moon. Additionally, we followed up discussions on learning from our respective asteroid sample return missions, OSIRIS-REx AND Hayabusa-2.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, poses for a photo with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President, Hiroshi Yamakawa, just before meeting to discuss opportunities to work together in human and robotic exploration at the lunar surface and around the Moon, at the Space Symposium, Monday, April 8, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They also discussed the two agencies’ asteroid sample return missions, OSIRIS-REx AND Hayabusa-2, and how they are looking forward to sharing the data and results from those missions. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

This afternoon, I participated in a historic moment as NASA welcomed the newly formed Hellenic Space Agency (HAS). HSA CEO Dr. Georgios Mantzouris and I signed a joint statement expressing a desire to remain open to opportunities for collaboration, both through Greece’s contributions to the European Space Agency and bilaterally.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, right, holds up a joint statement with the Hellenic Space Agency (HSA) CEO, Dr. Georgios Mantzouris, after a signing ceremony at the Space Symposium, Monday, April 8, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dr. Mantzouris expressed a desire to remain open to opportunities for collaboration, both through Greece’s contributions to the European Space Agency, of which it has been a member since 2005, and bilaterally. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

I attended a meeting of the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group, an organization focused on coordination, cooperation and technology and information exchange across the nation’s space enterprise. They expressed their efforts to strengthen the space community,

Speaking at the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) I provided remarks on the legal and regulatory uncertainty that must be considered as we solidify our plans for the moon. These considerations must include non-traditional space activities and examining how to establish the legal regimes for authorization and continuing supervision. My conversation called on the experts in the room to further analyze this new frontier of deep space to ensure we have the certainty necessary for all parties to be successful on the Moon.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, speaks during a session on Space Law at the Space Symposium, Monday, April 8, 2019 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

NASA and its partners are working tirelessly to make our next giant leap possible, and we’re bolstering critical sectors of our aerospace base in the process. Throughout this first day of Space Symposium, I connected with leaders in the space community and reiterated our commitment to our space architecture and the importance of international cooperation in order for all nations to be successful.

A Message to the Workforce on SLS and Orion

On March 14, 2019, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sent this message to NASA employees and contractors:

Yesterday, I was asked by Congress about the schedule slip of the Space Launch System and plans to get NASA back on track. I mentioned that we are exploring the possibility of launching Orion and the European Service Module to low-Earth orbit on an existing heavy-lift rocket, then using a boost from another existing vehicle for Trans Lunar Injection. Our goal would be to test Orion in lunar orbit in 2020 and free up the first SLS for the launch of habitation or other hardware in 2021. This would get us back on schedule for a crewed lunar orbital mission in 2022 with the added bonus of a lunar destination for our astronauts.

We are studying this approach to accelerate our lunar efforts. The review will take no longer than two weeks and the results will be made available. Please know that NASA is committed to building and flying the SLS for the following reasons:

  1. Launching two heavy-lift rockets to get Orion to the Moon is not optimum or sustainable.
  2. Docking crewed vehicles in Earth orbit to get to the Moon adds complexity and risk that is undesirable.
  3. SLS mitigates these challenges and allows crew and payloads to get to the Moon, and eventually to Mars, safer and more efficiently than any temporary solution used to get back on track.

I believe in the strength of our workforce and our ability to utilize every tool available to achieve our objectives. Our goal is to get to the Moon sustainably and on to Mars. With your focused efforts, and unmatched talent, the possibility of achieving this objective is real.

Ad astra,

Jim Bridenstine

Funding a New Era of Exploration, Science and Discovery

As the international leader in space for 60 years, NASA has achieved inspiring feats of exploration, discovery, science and technology. We have changed the way the world flies, communicates, navigates, predicts weather, produces food and energy, and so much more. 

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 NASA budget is one of the strongest on record for our storied agency. In keeping with Space Policy Directive-1, it provides for the foundation of a national exploration campaign that will use the experience of the NASA workforce, coupled with the agility and innovation of our commercial and international partners, to create an architecture that is open, sustainable and agile. This unified effort will inspire generations and change the course of history as we realize the next great scientific, economic and technical achievements in space. 

The 2020 NASA budget supports a sustainable campaign of exploration, returning humans to lunar orbit and then the surface of the Moon, and eventually embarking on human missions to Mars and other destinations.

In low-Earth orbit, our Commercial Crew program remains strong and will soon be delivering American astronauts, on American rockets, from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. The successes of our commercial and international partnerships on the International Space Station are now serving as the foundation for moving deeper into space. 

For the first time in a decade, NASA has a budget for pursuing activities on the lunar surface. We have called on American companies to help design and develop human lunar landers and reusable systems for surface activities. The Space Launch System and Orion, critical components of our exploration architecture, will reach important milestones in construction and testing this year, and our new lunar command module, the Gateway, will see international and commercial partnerships solidified and construction begin. 

NASA administrator and two astronauts sit down for conversation

With this budget, we will initiate the first round trip mission to the Red Planet with a Mars sample return mission, and many of the technological advancements we achieve moving forward to the Moon will provide critical data and capabilities for future robotic and crewed Mars missions. NASA is positioned to provide American leadership across each of these key destinations, empowering industry and the international community to move off the Earth in a unified, collaborative way. 

As this Administration places a priority on human exploration, the whole of NASA benefits with robust budgets and synergy across our mission directorates. We will continue to pursue transformative aeronautics technology as we develop the next generation of aircraft and make air travel safer and more efficient. We will increase our understanding of our home planet and move out on ambitious programs to study the far reaches of our solar system and beyond.

Through the leadership and investment of this Administration, the world will participate together in civilization-changing discoveries and achievements.

The fiscal year 2020 NASA budget is strong. We will explore, discover and inspire, and all of humanity will benefit from our efforts.

Canada Commits to Joining NASA at the Moon

NASA is going back to the Moon to stay. It’s part of a bold directive from the President for the U.S. to lead a worldwide endeavor to open a new era of space exploration in a measured, sustainable way. This work is going to take collaboration with international partners, industry, and other stakeholders, and I’m delighted by Canada’s commitment today to join us in our work to go forward to the Moon and Mars.

We are excited that Canada will be a vital ally in this lunar journey as they become the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost with their 24 year commitment to deep space exploration and collaboration.

Canada’s friendship throughout the Space Age, and our longstanding partnership aboard the International Space Station have brought our two nations many benefits. From astronauts like David Saint-Jacques, currently aboard the station, to the invaluable Canadarm-2 that helps us perform many tasks on the station, everything from critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope to the construction of the International Space Station. Canada’s technical expertise and human resources have been an incredible component of our achievements on orbit and across the spectrum of our work. It was my great pleasure to visit Canada recently and see this innovation firsthand.

Going forward to the Moon, we’re making progress on a Gateway lunar outpost where astronauts can live and work in orbit and from which we can go to the lunar surface, again and again. We’ve begun the process for industry partners to deliver the first science instruments and tech demonstrations to the Moon’s surface, and we’re going to keep up that drumbeat until we’ve built human landers to get us back to the Moon by 2028.

Today, in addition to their incredible 24-year commitment, Canada is going to build a next generation Canadarm for the Gateway lunar outpost and support our work with industry to return to the surface of the moon, among other efforts. Canada’s technologic achievement as part of Gateway lunar outpost will be a part of creating the vital backbone for commercial and other international partnerships to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars. We are thrilled to work with Canada on the next generation of its robotics to help carry out incredible missions at the Gateway lunar outpost and to collaborate in our future on the lunar surface and deep space.

I thank Prime Minister Trudeau for his vote of confidence in the Canadian Space Agency and the many innovations that its president Sylvain Laporte and the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development are pursuing for the Canadian people and the world. Our work in space improves life for people everywhere on this planet. We look forward to our deepening partnership with Canada, and the support of the many other nations I am confident will join us and help strengthen our progress on the challenging goals we’ve set in space.

A Budget of Opportunities for NASA

NASA has once again received a strong bipartisan vote of confidence from President Donald J. Trump and Congress with the approval of our $21.5 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019, which is $763.9 million above the FY 2018 enacted level. It’s a win for our space program and the American people.

All of our directorates received healthy topline funding at or exceeding the original budget request, and our work to move forward to the Moon and beyond remains on firm footing. We’re looking forward to giving Congress more details about our plans, and are confident that the taxpayer investment to explore deep space will reap large and ongoing dividends.

This budgetary support ensures progress on our bold plans to once again launch American astronauts to the International Space Station in American-made rockets from American soil on commercial spacecraft. We’re also marking milestones as we build the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to take astronauts deeper into space than we have ever gone before. These big ideas demand long term commitment. And this budget fully supports them. The dedicated NASA workforce has been demonstrating that these things can be done, and is making progress and reaching milestones across the spectrum of our work.

This year we plan to contract for the first work on our Gateway, a new orbiting home for astronauts at the Moon, and the budget supports our work on this next step in our plans to extend human presence around the Moon. We are working to procure a commercially provided lunar lander with tech demonstrations and science payloads this year. The Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contractors will drive the schedule for the first delivery to the lunar surface. Industry is also helping us refine and advance our plans for landers to return humans to the lunar surface by 2028.

Thanks to bipartisan support, NASA has funding to develop cutting edge technologies focused on deep space exploration such as new propulsion technologies, and extraordinary science that continues to impact the lives of everyone on the planet through our Earth observations that improve weather forecasting and disaster preparedness and improve agriculture. This budget is also helping us target big science goals such as the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Our aeronautics engineers are working on transformative technologies to advance hypersonic travel, reducing that familiar boom and making flights faster, as well as improving travel for the average American and making airplanes safer and flights more reliable. These are some the countless breakthroughs made by NASA scientists and engineers that are improving the quality of life for every day Americans – benefits whose value increases exponentially.

It’s clear that NASA at 60 continues to lead the world in creating the future, and we look forward to implementing this strong budget.