NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine predicted Thursday that the U.S. will have a constant lunar presence in about the next 10 years.
The bold prediction came on the same the day the space agency announced nine U.S. industry partners who will compete for contracts to help send supplies for missions both the moon and, one day, Mars.
“Right now, we’re building a space station, we call it ‘Gateway,’ that’s going to be in orbit around the moon — think of it as a reusable command module where we can have human presence in orbit around the moon. From there, we want reusable landers that go back and forth to the surface of the moon,” Bridenstine told Hill.TV.
The Trump administration has prioritized creating a space station, the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, in the moon’s orbit sometimes within the 2020s, with the intent on using it as a launch pad for missions both on the lunar surface as well as crewed deep-space missions sent farther out into the solar system, including Mars.
Astronauts haven’t been to the moon since 1972.
Bridenstine was confident that the U.S. would not only return soon to the moon, but also do so in a continuous fashion.