explore moon to mars

“ 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.

Inspiration ▾

Science ▾

Exploration ▾

Economy ▾


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.


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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 days rather than hours.

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 Exploration Mission-1, 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 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.


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.


2017 – Our Mission

2019 – Commercial Moon Deliveries

2020 – Exploration Mission-1

2022 – Exploration Mission-2

2022 – First Gateway Element

2023 – Science & Exploration Rover

2024 – Astronauts on the Moon

2030s – Astronauts on Mars




Gateway Poster (39 MB)

Moon Poster (64 MB)

Mars Poster (47 MB)


NASA Seeks US Partners to Develop Reusable Systems to Land Astronauts on Moon

As the next major step to return astronauts to the Moon under Space Policy Directive-1, NASA announced plans on Dec. 13 to work with American companies to design and develop new reusable systems for astronauts to land on the lunar surface. […]

NASA Selects Experiments for Possible Lunar Flights in 2019

NASA has selected 12 science and technology demonstration payloads to fly to the Moon as early as the end of this year, dependent upon the availability of commercial landers. These selections represent an early step toward the agency’s long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and, later, Mars. […]

NASA Announces New Partnerships for Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery Services

Nine U.S. companies now are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts, as one of the first steps toward long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars. […]


nasa-logoNational Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA Official: Brian Dunbar


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