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“ President Donald Trump has asked NASA to accelerate our plans to return to the Moon and to land humans on the surface again by 2024. We will go with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than was ever thought possible. This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay. And then we will use what we learn on the Moon to take the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars ”

—NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine


NASA’s science, technology and human exploration activities touch every aspect of our lives here on Earth and we want to extend our presence to the farthest corners of the universe. In doing so, we will maintain America’s leadership in space.


We're Going Forward to the Moon to Stay

More than 45 years since we last set foot on the Moon, our president has renewed the nation’s focus on expanding humanity’s presence beyond Earth. Space Policy Directive-1 provides the direction for NASA to organize more effectively government, commercial and international efforts to develop a permanent presence off Earth that generates new markets and opportunities, both scientific and economic.

  • We are going quickly and sustainably with a reusable architecture.
  • We are going with commercial and international partners to explore faster and explore more together.
  • We will bring new knowledge and opportunities.
  • We will use the resources of the Moon to enable farther exploration.
  • We will prove out the technologies that will take us to Mars and beyond.

What is Artemis?

She was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. Now, she personifies our path to the Moon as the name of NASA's program to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024, including the first woman and the next man. When they land, our American astronauts will step foot where no human has ever been before: the Moon’s South Pole.

Working with U.S. companies and international partners, NASA will push the boundaries of human exploration forward to the Moon for this program. As a result of Artemis, NASA will be able to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 to uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements, and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

With our goal of sending humans to Mars, Artemis is the first step to begin this next era of exploration.

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Forward to the Moon: NASA's Strategic Plan for Lunar Exploration (May 23, 2019) (9 MB PDF)

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NASA is building a spacecraft to take astronauts to deep space that will usher in a new era of space exploration.

Orion will take us farther than we’ve gone before, and dock with the Gateway in orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft will carry up to four crew members and is designed to support astronauts traveling hundreds of thousands of miles from home, where getting back to Earth takes hours rather than days.

Both distance and duration demand Orion to have systems that can reliably operate far from home, be capable of keeping astronauts alive in case of emergencies and still be light enough that a rocket can launch it.

A Series of Challenging Missions

NASA will launch Orion on the agency’s powerful rocket, the Space Launch System, from a modernized spaceport at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On the first integrated mission, known as Artemis I, an uncrewed Orion will venture thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about three weeks. A series of increasingly challenging missions with crew will follow including a test flight around the Moon before operational missions to the Gateway.


NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is a powerful, advanced rocket for a new era of human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. With unprecedented power capabilities, SLS will launch astronauts aboard the agency’s Orion spacecraft on missions to explore deep space.

SLS is designed to safely send humans to deep space and can support a variety of complex missions. It will also open new possibilities for payloads, including robotic scientific missions to places like Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.

  • Offering more payload mass, volume capability and energy to speed missions through space than any other rocket.
  • SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and large cargo to the Moon on a single mission.
  • SLS is America’s rocket with more than 1,000 companies from across the U.S. and every NASA center supporting its development.

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The initial configuration of SLS can send more than 26 metric tons (57,000 pounds) to the Moon, and future upgrades will enable the rocket to send at least 45 metric tons (99,000 pounds). Towering a staggering 322 feet tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty, SLS will weigh 5.75 million pounds and produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, 15 percent more thrust than the Saturn V rocket.

The SLS booster is the largest, most powerful solid propellant booster ever built for flight. Standing 17 stories tall and burning approximately six tons of propellant every second, each booster produces 3,600,000 pounds of thrust – greater than 14 four-engine Boeing 747’s at full take-off power.

The SLS core stage is powered by four RS-25 engines. Each RS-25 engine is about the size of a compact car and weighs about 8,000 pounds. The core stage towers more than 200 feet tall and holds 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen.


The Gateway

NASA and its partners are designing and developing a small spaceship in orbit around the Moon for astronauts, science and technology demonstrations known as the Gateway. Located about 250,000 miles from Earth, the Gateway will enable access to the entire surface of the Moon and provide new opportunities in deep space for exploration.

Sustainable Exploration

This new era of sustainable human exploration requires advanced technologies that are efficient, affordable and reliable. Solar electric propulsion offers these benefits and is a key technology for the Gateway. The first element to launch to space will be the power and propulsion element in 2022. This alternative propulsion system will enrich exploration at the Moon by enabling orbit transfers and reusable space tugs to and from the lunar surface.


A New Approach

Beginning with a series of small commercial delivery missions, we will use new tools and technology demonstrations to conduct more science across the surface of the Moon, and exploit the resources of our nearest neighbor ahead of a human return.

With some of humanity’s most advanced technologies, future astronauts will stay longer on the surface of the Moon, explore more of the Moon than ever imagined, and build a sustainable presence.

  • A new class of power systems will support future human outposts.
  • Autonomous rovers and robots will move around the surface.
  • We will print, manufacture and build as much as we can with materials found on the Moon.

Surface Missions

Working with American companies and leveraging the Gateway, NASA recently proposed designing and developing a new reusable human lunar landing system. The elements of this system would include descent, transfer, refueling, ascent and surface suit capabilities. Using them, NASA planned to send astronauts to the surface of the Moon in the next decade.

Following a recommendation from the National Space Council, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence asked NASA to accelerate lunar exploration plans and put Americans back on the Moon by 2024, leading to a sustained presence on and around the Moon. The agency will factor this recommendation into its planned human lunar landing studies with American companies.


Space Policy Directive-1 calls for NASA to “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.” With this direction from the president, NASA will put astronauts on the Moon in the next decade, and lay the foundation for human exploration of Mars.

On March 26, 2019, President Trump directed NASA to land the first American woman and next American man on the lunar South Pole in the next five years. NASA accepted this bold challenge, and is working to accelerate technology and hardware development to move forward to the Moon, with humans on the surface by 2024.

Through Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, NASA is partnering with nine American companies to send new science instruments and technologies to the Moon ahead of a human return. NASA plans to issue its first task order for payload delivery services to the lunar surface in May, and the first delivery could happen by late 2019 if commercial landers are ready. NASA will order more deliveries to the Moon as needed over the next decade

NASA is targeting 2020 for the launch of its powerful Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft together for the first time from a modernized Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This uncrewed flight test, known as Artemis 1, will demonstrate our capability to send crew spaceship to lunar orbit ahead of a return to the surface of the Moon. After launch, SLS will also deploy a number of CubeSats to perform experiments and technology demonstrations.

NASA is targeting 2022 to test its powerful Space Launch System with astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft. Launching again from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Artemis 2 will fly a different path than the first test flight, and will take a crew around the Moon for the first time in fifty years. This first mission with astronauts will mark a significant step forward for regular missions with crew to lunar orbit, and ultimately on the surface of the Moon and beyond.

The power and propulsion element for the Gateway will launch on a private rocket by December 2022, and provide a one-year demonstration in space. Using advanced solar electric propulsion, this first module of the Gateway will provide power, propulsion and communications for the entire spaceship as its assembled and operated.

NASA is working with commercial industry to develop mobility platforms, such as rovers, to carry science instruments and look for and sample water-ice (volatile) deposits. Landing a rover in 2023 on the Moon will be the beginning of better understanding the nature of lunar volatiles and could lead to new scientific discoveries. It will also provide us knowledge as to how we can use the water-ice for fuel, oxygen and drinking water for human exploration missions to lunar surface.

NASA will launch a small cabin on a private rocket to dock with the power and propulsion element. The first astronauts to visit the Gateway will transfer from Orion to this pressurized cabin, where they will prepare for their expedition to the lunar South Pole.

The human landing system will be launched in stages aboard private rockets. They will assemble together in lunar orbit and dock to the Gateway as a single unit, ready to take astronauts down to the lunar surface.

NASA’s Space Launch System will send Orion and its crew to lunar orbit, where it will dock at the Gateway. The crew will check out the Gateway cabin and Human Landing System before boarding the lander to ride down to the Moon.

NASA will build on the capabilities established for the 2024 landing, and work with U.S. industry and international partners to develop a sustainable human lunar presence. The Space Launch System rocket will send Orion spacecraft and its crew to lunar orbit, where astronauts will conduct expeditions aboard the Gateway and on the lunar surface.

NASA’s Space Launch System will send Orion and its crew to lunar orbit, where astronauts will conduct expeditions aboard the Gateway and on the lunar surface.

NASA’s Space Launch System will send Orion and its crew to lunar orbit, where astronauts will conduct expeditions aboard the Gateway and on the lunar surface.

NASA’s Space Launch System will send Orion and its crew to lunar orbit, where astronauts will conduct expeditions aboard the Gateway and on the lunar surface.

NASA and its industry and international partners plan to have a steady cadence of astronaut expeditions to the Gateway and lunar surface, with increased Gateway capabilities and reusable landing systems.

NASA is keeping its eyes on human exploration of Mars. Our sustainable Moon to Mars exploration approach is reusable and repeatable – we will build an open exploration architecture in lunar orbit with as many capabilities that can be replicated as possible for missions to the Red Planet.




Gateway Poster (39 MB)

Moon Poster (64 MB)

Mars Poster (47 MB)


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