WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.–NASA’s mission is to put people on the moon by 2024 and on Mars after that. Purdue University is expected to play key roles in the research it will take to get us there, much as the school did in the 1960s.
Pres. Trump is giving NASA more money than the agency normally gets to speed up the program.
“One point six billion additional dollars for our acceleration of the lunar program so we can get the next man ad woman to the surface of the moon in the year 2024,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein, at a NASA Town Hall meeting Tuesday.
The original target date was 2028. Bridenstein said the date was moved up mainly due to “political risk”.
“It’s always because priorities change, budgets change, administrations change, Congresses change,” he said. “So, how do we retire as much political risk as possible? We accelerate the program. The shorter the program is, the less time it takes, the less political risk we endure.”
Bridenstein also reiterated what Vice Pres. Mike Pence said earlier this year, that one of the next astronauts to travel to the moon will be an American woman.
The mission itself will be named for Apollo’s sister, Artemis.
Part of Purdue’s research is to determine how people will live on the moon and Mars once we get there.
“We decided to start looking not at how do we get to Mars, but rather how do we thrive there once we arrive,” said Shirley Dyke, a professor of mechanical and civil engineering at Purdue’s Resilient ExtraTerrestrial Habitats Institute . “How do we actually build habitats that can sustain life and deal with all the hazards but still keep people comfortable and keep things moving in terms of exploration and science?”
As part of the research, the RETH Institute will build a quarter-scale habitat as realistically as possible in Purdue’s Herrick Labs. This structure with the various subsystems would allow some components to be physically tested, while others are examined in a virtual context, said a news release from Purdue.
Pence has also been pushing for NASA’s next moon mission, making the announcement in Huntsville, Alabama, earlier this year that the mission would be a priority and that the timeline is five years.