For NASA, the moon is only a steppingstone on the way to Mars.
With plans to put astronauts on the Red Planet by the late 2030s, NASA has created the Lunar Gateway, a space station that will orbit the moon and help astronauts learn how to live in deep space.
“Why do we go back [to the moon]? We’re going to explore, we’re going to learn about our solar system,” said Marshall Smith, NASA’s director of human lunar exploration. “How we move around on Mars, we can do that on the moon, very similar.”
The gateway is intended to be a permanent docking area for astronauts on their way to the moon and eventually Mars, which will require at least a 1-year round trip.
NASA’s goal is to start sending humans to the moon by the end of 2024. Learning to use the moon’s resources and how to stay there is a part of the plan to travel deeper into space, Mr. Smith said.
“It allows us to have a testing ground that’s not years away or months away, but days,” he said. “If something goes wrong on Mars, you have to deal with it until you can come back. That could be up to a year and a half.”
Source: Emily Ketterer - The Washington Times