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NASA Discusses Lunar Exploration with Potential Private, Academic Partners


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August 25, 2020

NASA will establish a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon with by the end of the decade with a variety of partners as part of the Artemis program. Building on the agency’s surface sustainability concept released earlier this year, leaders at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston partnered with Texas A&M University and Rice University’s Baker’s Institute to bring together government, industry, and academia to host the first Lunar Exploration Forum.

The virtual forum served as an opportunity for local stakeholders to discuss opportunities of exploration, commercial enterprise, and scientific research on the Moon.

“NASA leads the globe in research, strategy, mission planning, systems development, integration and investment for the future of human space exploration. We look forward to establishing a long-term presence in deep space with partners old and new,” said Mark Geyer, director of NASA Johnson. “By collaborating with academia and industry, we will accomplish our exploration goals and also enable a growing lunar economy that will be able to sustain itself as we set our sights on farther destinations – including Mars.”

By facilitating a dialogue about potential lunar landing sites, scientific research goals, and the capabilities necessary to build a sustainable human lunar presence, NASA continues to refine its scientific and human exploration Artemis plans, which have an added benefit of stimulating economic benefits at the Moon.

During the forum, NASA received interest from commercial and academic entities seeking opportunities to work with the agency to develop a lunar outpost at the Moon’s South Pole. The findings from the forum are being distilled into a white paper that will provide insights into the enablers and roadblocks to a sustainable lunar exploration plan.

"The Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University was very pleased to join NASA and Texas A&M University in sponsoring the Lunar Forum," said George Abbey, senior fellow in space policy at the Baker Institute. "As we return once more to the moon, there are many opportunities for both government and industry and for international cooperation. The Lunar Forum will hopefully lead to the definition and realization of those opportunities."

The importance of this partnership approach has been highlighted this year, as the International Space Station is approaching 20 years of continuous habitation, underscoring the importance of global partnerships, and the successful launch of SpaceX DM-2 to station, further demonstrating the success that NASA has had working with commercial partners and creating a low-Earth orbit economy.

The forum partners see this as another opportunity to come together and develop a world changing partnership, similar to the success of the space station.

“Everyone at the Texas A&M System appreciates being part of the 2020 NASA Lunar Exploration Forum. We look forward to seeing all the talented participants on campus at Texas A&M University next year,” said Chancellor John Sharp of The Texas A&M University System. “We are proud to be part of this historic effort, and we are here to do whatever we can to put Americans back to the moon.”

The success of the forum has resulted in heightened anticipation for a potential follow-on meeting targeted for late spring 2021.

Learn more about NASA’s Artemis program: https://www.nasa.gov/artemis