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NASA's Exploration Campaign: Back to the Moon and on to Mars

Back to the Moon and on to Mars

“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints -- we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, worlds beyond.” -President Donald Trump


In December 2017, President Donald J. Trump gave NASA a new direction, telling the agency to work with international and commercial partners to refocus exploration efforts on the moon, with an eye to eventually going on to Mars and even beyond. As stated in Space Policy Directive-1, "The NASA Administrator shall, '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. Beginning with missions beyond low-Earth orbit, the United States will lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilization, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations.'

The Exploration Campaign is a national and agency effort focused on three core domains: low Earth orbit; lunar orbit and surface; and Mars and other deep space objectives. The campaign has four strategic goals:

Transition U.S. human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit to commercial operations, which support NASA and the needs of an emerging private sector market. Extend long-duration U.S. human spaceflight operations to lunar orbit. Enable long-term robotic exploration of the Moon. Enable human exploration of the Moon as preparation for human missions to Mars and deeper into the solar system.

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