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NASA Plans Return to Moon in New Four Year Plan

NASA’s new four year strategic plan has set the moon in its sights once more. In response to the Trump Administration’s emphasis on space exploration activities, NASA plans to merge the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) with the advanced technology work in the Advanced Exploration Systems program to create a new Exploration Research and Technology organization. Further changes are still being contemplated and will be announced later this year.

In rolling out the plan along with the agency’s budget earlier this year, NASA’s Acting Administrator, Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr., laid out a series of long-term space exploration objectives, including the Moon and eventually Mars, and emphasized NASA’s partnership with the private sector as critical to achieve national goals. Lightfoot explained, “We are looking to secure the Nation’s long-term presence in low Earth orbit by partnering with industry to develop commercial orbital platforms and capabilities that the private sector and NASA can use after the cessation of direct U.S. Federal funding for ISS in 2025. NASA intends to shift its human spaceflight program out to the Moon and cis-lunar region, evaluating new habitat technologies, surface transportation systems, fuel generation, and storage solutions, as well as additional technologies that need to be developed prior to traveling to the surface of the Moon and deeper into space. In every domain, we intend to renew and strengthen our commitment to American commercial space companies, which are critical partners in the human exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”

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