WASH., D.C., Oct. 1 (UPI) — NASA new direction of sending astronauts to the asteroids or Mars doesn’t mean a return to the moon is out of the question, the U.S. agency’s deputy head says.
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said the moon has a role to play in the new space exploration plan set by President Barack Obama and approved by Congress this week.
“Lunar science and lunar exploration is alive and well in NASA,” Garver told SPACE.com.
Obama’s plan cancels NASA’s moon-oriented Constellation program, initiated by former President George W. Bush, which sought to return astronauts to the moon by 2020.
But the moon is a symbol of inspiration for many people in part because of NASA’s manned lunar landings of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the moon is also the most visible of off-world destination to the public, Garver said.
“I just won’t agree that this ends the moon as a destination,” Garver said. “We look up in the night sky and see the moon and it is an inspiration to us all.’”
The NASA authorization bill approved by Congress outlines the need for the United States “to sustain a human presence in space,” Garver said.
“And the moon is part of any long-term sustainable presence in space,” Garver said.
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