The United States is accelerating its plans to explore the lunar surface, which is an endeavor that will likely draw on the talents of students and scientists in our planetary science community. The new lunar exploration plans were outlined at a March 26 meeting of the National Space Council that was chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.
The Vice President articulated an objective to land “American astronauts on the Moon within the next five years.” Per the Vice President’s remarks, the National Space Council also recommended “that when the first American astronauts return to the lunar surface, …they will take their first steps on the Moon’s South Pole.”
Coincident with the National Space Council meeting, NASA Administrator Bridenstine released a statement with the following direction:
- NASA is charged to get American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years.
- We are tasked with landing on the Moon’s South Pole by 2024.
- Stay on schedule for flying Exploration Mission-1 with Orion on the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket next year, and for sending the first crewed mission to the lunar vicinity by 2022.
- NASA will continue to ‘use all means necessary’ to ensure mission success in moving us forward to the Moon.
For those interested in Vice President Mike Pence’s complete speech, a copy of the text is available at
For those interested in Administrator Bridenstine’s complete statement, a copy is available at the following NASA website: