On Monday, April 1,
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine hosted an agencywide town-hall meeting to
address employee questions stemming from the announcement that NASA will return
American astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024. Highlights from the
meeting are outlined below.
How will we meet the
Administrator Bridenstine made it clear that we are going to
move quickly to go to the Moon with international and commercial partners. The
new Moon to Mars Directorate at NASA Headquarters will be focused on the
mission development that will make landing on the Moon in 2024 a reality.
Bridenstine also emphasized that all options are on the table, and that we will
achieve this goal by any means necessary.
administration and Congress provide adequate funding to return to the Moon in
The president has tasked NASA with accomplishing this goal
by any means necessary. Administrator Bridenstine made it clear that landing
humans on the lunar surface will require additional means, and that he is
committed to working with the executive and legislative branches to achieve across-the-board
consensus about the funding necessary for this important endeavor.
How will we ensure
safety as NASA moves quickly to send humans to the Moon?
The administrator made it clear that we are not going to land
on the Moon in 2024 unless we can do it safely. He also emphasized that
technological developments and understanding independent reviews will allow
NASA to land astronauts on the Moon safely in 2024.
What locations will
astronauts will land at on the Moon?
The vice president tasked NASA with sending astronauts to
the South Pole of the Moon. The South Pole is important because it has
resources that will allow NASA to return to the Moon sustainably. To land
astronauts on the poles of the Moon, NASA will rely on the Gateway, which will enable
access to new parts of the Moon.
What are NASA’s goals
for the first crew to accomplish on the surface?
The first woman and the next man on the Moon will prove
technology that will be vital as NASA sends astronauts on future missions to
Mars. The mission will allow NASA to learn to live and work sustainably on
What capabilities need
to be developed?
These missions will, first and foremost, require the Gateway.
This will not be another International Space Station around the Moon, but a
tool that offers speed. From the Gateway, astronauts will need descent and
ascent modules for missions to and from the surface.
Are we still counting
on launching Orion on the Space Launch System (SLS)?
The best option is to launch SLS with Orion and the European
Service Module. NASA is not going to compromise safety, but is going to leave
all options on the table to prepare to land on the Moon by 2024. NASA is
currently looking at ways to expedite the launch of the SLS.
How will we manage
programmatic changes with the administration?
This is not a political or partisan mission. No one knows
what the world will look like in 2024, but we know that we will land on the
Moon in 2024.
What are the
big-picture takeaways for NASA employees?
“This is a big charge and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,”
Bridenstine said. “This is the moment that you will tell your children and
grandchildren about one day.”
Vice President Mike Pence stated during his announcement the
week prior that NASA would land humans on the Moon in 2024, and that “History
is written by those who dare to dream big and do the impossible.”
Noah Michelsohn, Johnson Space Center