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Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Implementation Plan

exploration systems mission directorate implementation plan
Nearly a half a century after Congress enacted the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, NASA’s Exploration Systems Missions Directorate (ESMD) is taking the next step in the Agency’s proud tradition of exploration. As the President stated in 2004, when NASA's new focus on space exploration was announced, “We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives, and lifts our national spirit.”

The first generation of NASA reached the moon with the Apollo program, and unlocked the solar system with a rich legacy of robotic missions and satellites. Aeronautical vehicles pushed the air-space boundary, and helped enable gains in aerospace and aviation. The Space Shuttle and International Space Station mark the second generation of NASA’s exploration journey. We have extended the sphere of human influence off the planet to 200 nautical miles into space, and now embark on a new generational endeavor defined by its inspirational, bold, and practical spirit. With establishment of a lunar outpost, NASA will extend human influence to another planetary body, allowing exploration of the moon, attainment of economic and scientific benefits, and the development of the ability to continue to extend the sphere of human influence to Mars and beyond.

ESMD develops the capabilities and supporting research and technology that will enable sustained and affordable human and robotic exploration and ensure the health and performance of crews during long-duration space exploration, including robotic precursor missions, human transportation elements, and life support systems. However, this bold, new journey requires the strengths of the whole NASA team. Space operations activities provides the communications, operational test and evaluations, and mission operations competencies and assets needed to run the effort. Science missions inform and are informed by our mutual solar system exploration activities. Aeronautical research underpins our ability to create new vehicles and expand our operational regimes. The ESMD Implementation Plan communicates our approach for achieving the Agency’s ambitious exploration goals. In addition, it provides NASA employees, external partners, and stakeholders with an overall understanding of the ESMD mission, goals, objectives, and priorities across the organization.

I have grown up with NASA. It has been a privilege and an honor to watch NASA accomplish the feats of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Surveyor, Voyager, X-15, X-29, and the long list of other notable missions. I have been blessed to participate directly in the accomplishments of the shuttle and the ISS. It has been a rare opportunity to have participated in the first and second generations of NASA, and now to be part of the team that will help usher in the next age of human exploration. We have embarked on a dynamic, creative, and inspiring venture to advance our nation and unite with other nations as we extend the reach of human civilization to the moon, Mars, and beyond. Through our collective commitment, NASA will shape the future into reality.

Scott “Doc” Horowitz

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