NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a Senate committee on Wednesday the agency will consider using commercial rockets for its lunar crew test flight, opening the door for SpaceX to win a pair of potentially lucrative launch contracts.
The team, led by UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, or SSL, associate research chemist Kees Welten, will study how impacts from meteorites and micrometeorites may have affected the geology of the moon's surface, NASA said in the statement.
The last time a human stepped foot on the moon was during the Apollo era moon landings. Anne McClain and Christina Koch, both part of the 2013 astronaut class, are set to do the spacewalk.
NASA did not reveal names, but the administrator did say that these are great times.
In fact, he said the next person on the moon is also likely to be a woman.
NASAAnne Mc Clain will make history as part of the first all-female spacewalk on the International Space Station at the end of March
Jim Bridenstine - appointed by US President Donald Trump a year ago - did not confirm a specific astronaut, but said that women are at forefront of the agency's plans. Bridenstine said NASA is "absolutely" committed to making that happen.
The moon has been keeping secrets for billions of years, but we've had samples of lunar regolith right here on Earth that haven't even been looked at since they were brought back from the Apollo missions nearly 50 years ago.
Bridenstein's announcement follows another major update for women in space: Later this month, NASA is conducting the first all-female spacewalk. Lastly, the budget proposal seeks to end funding for NASA's Office of STEM Engagement, the space agency's education office, and focus its funds on exploration. It was in 1978 when six women first joined the agency. While NASA is optimistic about the budget, it spells significant delays and terminations for a number of the agency's projects, including the development of a new Space Launch System.
Today, women make up 34 percent of NASA's astronaut roster, and while there's still a while to go before the balance is almost equal, it has come a long, long way. "They serve as role models to young women in their pursuit of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics", NASA stated. The most recent class of flight directors was also 50% women, NASA said.
"We're now understanding better how hard this project is and that it is going to take additional time", Bridenstine said of SLS, which has been in development since 2011.
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