NASA on target for return to the moon by 2020

Despite funding uncertainty, NASA is on track to return humans to the moon by 2020 and set up a lunar outpost to serve as a springboard to explore Mars, officials said Monday.

“Our job is to build towns on the moon and eventually put tire prints on Mars,” NASA’s Rick Gilbrech told reporters here, one year after the US space agency unveiled an ambitious plan to site a solar-powered, manned outpost on the south pole of the moon.

“We have the International Space Station, we’re going to have a lunar outpost, and someday, certainly, somebody will go to Mars,” said Jeff Hanley, head of NASA’s Constellation program, which is developing the tools to return humans to the moon.

“Thirty-five years ago this week, Gene Cernan, Ron Evans and Jack Schmitt were on the surface of the moon. We are working hard to return a future generation of astronauts to the moon,” said space flight veteran Carl Walz, who now works for NASA’s exploration systems mission directorate.

Despite budgetary constraints, NASA hoped to have Constellation fully operational by 2016, Gilbrech said.

Source:  AFP

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