NASA says first person on Mars "likely" a woman

Katie Ramirez
March 14, 2019

While a total of 12 men have already been on the moon, not a single woman have ever marked this milestone.

The core has been carefully stored at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston since December 1972.

If that comes to fruition, it would mark a radical change from the way NASA had planned to return to the moon and would be a blow to the Space Launch System, involving a huge rocket that a government watchdog recently warned could cost as much as $9 billion.

That's where the Space Launch System, or SLS, comes in.

Jim Bridenstine was a guest on the science and technology radio show "Science Friday", when he teased that a woman is "likely to be" the first person on Mars.

A test expected to take place in June will put the Orion crew capsule's safety measures through their paces. NASA scientists said that this activity could help the agency to use the available water on the moon for the next lunar mission and may be useful for the human colonization.

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"We need to consider as an agency all options" to keep the EM-1 mission on schedule, Bridenstine said. One would launch the Orion/ESM, the other would launch ICPS, and the two would dock in Earth orbit and then continue with the flight plan around the Moon. We welcome the opportunity to join NASA in the flights of Orion, SLS and the Exploration Ground Systems that support these journeys, and the rapid expansion of science, commerce and human exploration at the Moon and beyond.

"We have wonderful capability that exists right now that we can use off the shelf in order to accomplish this objective", he said.

"This is a unique and exciting opportunity to use state-of-the-art techniques on lunar samples that have been preserved for nearly 50 years and to study questions that scientists at the time may have asked but didn't have the ability to answer", Jamie Elsila, principal investigator at NASA Goddard, said.

"I want to be clear, we do not have right now an ability to dock the Orion crew capsule with anything in orbit". However, NASA's Stephanie Schierholz said that it was just good fortune that it worked out that way, especially that it falls within the Women's History Month. The move was in reaction to the Obama Administration's 2010 decision, as part of its FY2011 budget request, to cancel the Bush Administration's Constellation program to return humans to the Moon by 2020.

He did not specify which private company he had in mind, but SpaceX - founded by billionaire Elon Musk - would be a natural candidate with its Falcon Heavy rocket.

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