Returning to the moon in five years is a goal worthy of America

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  • Source: Fox News
  • 07/31/2020
Last Thursday, the Washington Post published an editorial on President Trump’s bold new policy to return American astronauts to the moon in five years, which I announced last week in Huntsville. The president is committed to restore America’s legacy of leadership in space, and the Editorial Board is to be commended for giving this new policy the attention it deserves. But the suggestion that our administration has been neither “thoughtful about the space program’s goals” nor “honest about the costs” is false and needs to be corrected.

For much of the 46 years since Americans last walked on the moon, NASA’s exploration mission has remained in low Earth orbit with our astronauts stuck close to home. But in 2017, the president directed NASA with a clear mission and bold objective: Return to the moon for “long-term exploration and use” – not just to “plant our flag and leave our footprint,” but to “establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars.”

Landing astronauts at the moon’s South Pole and establishing a permanent lunar presence would prove anew the technological prowess and courage of the American people. So too would it propel groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Lunar science and human exploration are complementary, which is why much of the planetary science community supports the president’s bold new plan. The nation that leads the world back to the moon will lead the world in science and technology for generations.

Nor must we choose between sending either robots or astronauts. NASA’s robotic prospector missions will help teach us to extract the oxygen and hydrogen we need to survive on the moon and launch expeditions to Mars. This will reduce the need to resupply from Earth and make exploration more sustainable than ever. Pursuing robotic and crewed missions simultaneously, we will use ambitious deadlines as tools to drive clear priorities and avoid costly delays.

The Washington Post’s suggestion that our administration has been neither “thoughtful about the space program’s goals” nor “honest about the costs” is false and needs to be corrected.
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