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Fri, Sep 23, 2022

NASA Unveils Goalposts for Moon to Mars Program

New Roadmap Provides a “Matured Strategy” to Re-Focus an Agency Spread Thin

NASA has issued a selection of 63 objectives to help guide the agency as it prepares for a return to the Moon in the lead-up to an eventual mission to Mars. 

The agency’s “Moon to Mars” approach will help to correctly track priorities over the coming years, helping NASA leadership allocate funding and efforts where they’re needed most for core NASA objectives. The initial draft was the result of agency-wide collaboration, a group effort that brought each mission directorate together to balance public, industry, international, and workforce input to establish a total of 63 final targeted objectives. NASA describes the list as a “matured strategy for NASA and its partners” that divides goals into 4 overarching areas: Science, Transportation & Habitation, Lunar & Martian Infrastructure, and Operations. 

Until now, NASA’s efforts have been split between a handful of disparate goals and programs, stretching resources thin and stretching timelines across the board. NASA’s challenge is a tough one, requiring the agency to strike a balance between their support for the International Space Station mission, crewed lunar missions under Artemis, and preparation for an eventual Martian landing. Despite their best efforts, they still face a relative shortage of qualified, flight-ready astronauts and painfully troublesome contractor delays. While SpaceX has managed to provide a number of successful missions using their Falcon booster and Dragon capsule, Boeing’s competing Starliner has remained earthbound as deadlines came and went. They aren’t the only ones, as the ambitious goal for a Lunar return was pushed back from its initial promise of 2024. NASA hopes that the Moon to Mars roadmap will help to coalesce their efforts agency-wide and assign resources in ways that yield benefits for the greater mission. 

“We need a roadmap with staying power, and through a collaborative process, we’ve identified a core set of defined objectives to achieve our exploration goals with our partners,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “These objectives are both practical and aspirational, and we were gratified by the thoughtful contributions of our workforce, industry, and international partners who will join us in shaping our future together.”

“We’re helping to steward humanity’s global movement to deep space,” said Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, which manages the objectives team, and is ultimately responsible for the agency’s Moon to Mars architecture. “The objectives will help ensure a long-term strategy for solar system exploration can retain constancy of purpose and weather political and funding changes. They help provide clear direction as new technologies, vehicles, and elements are developed in the coming years and are designed to be realistically achievable.”



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