All About Space

NASA human spacefligh­t chief makes no guarantees on return to Moon

- Words by Hanneke Weitering

Putting astronauts back on the Moon by 2024 will be no small feat, and NASA’s new human spacefligh­t chief Kathy Lueders has been careful not to make any promises. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” Lueders said when asked about the feasibilit­y of a 2024 Moon landing. “I wish I knew that answer. That’d make my job a lot easier. We’re going to try.”

Lueders, who recently became the associate administra­tor for NASA’s Human Exploratio­n and Operations Mission Directorat­e after Doug Loverro’s abrupt resignatio­n, was a bit more pragmatic about the timeline of NASA’s Artemis program than her predecesso­r. While Lueders seems cautiously optimistic about getting astronauts to the Moon by 2024, Loverro was confident and unwavering in his assertion that NASA would make the deadline. At a NASA town hall in

December Loverro even said that “it is going to be easy to make this happen”.

Before Lueders became the head of human spacefligh­t at NASA she served as the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Those missions have faced years of delays and other challenges. When NASA created its Commercial Crew Program in 2010, the agency planned to have its astronauts regularly riding private vessels to and from the space station by 2015. Now, five years later, the first commercial crew mission has only just arrived at the orbiting lab.

“It’s very important to have an aggressive goal,” Lueders said in a teleconfer­ence on 18 June. “We had an aggressive goal in Commercial Crew, and I think that aggressive goal ensured that we were able to accomplish things as quickly as we could.”

 ??  ?? Left: Aeolis Mons lies in Gale crater, forming its central peak
Left: Aeolis Mons lies in Gale crater, forming its central peak

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