NASA has revealed plans to take America back to the moon – but will rely on private firms to run the missions.
The space agency plans to work with nine private firms, ranging from small startups to giants like Lockheed Martin, to develop robotic landers and systems to mine the natural resources on the moon.
This will help develop the technology need for eventual manned missions, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine pledged to have a manned lunar base within a decade.
Scroll down for video
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Jim Bridenstine announces new Moon to Mars partnerships with American companies
The first new lunar missions could blast off as early next year.
‘We’re building the next chapter of American exploration, returning to the moon – to stay,’ the space agency announced.
‘I think that it is possible we can have a presence on the moon with humans within a decade,’ said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
‘We’re going to utilize the resources of the moon, and take this all the way to Mars
Bridenstine, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and Oklahoma congressman tapped by President Donald Trump in April as NASA chief, said the plan was part of Trump’s Space Directive-1 policy.
‘Today’s announcement marks tangible progress in America’s return to the Moon’s surface to stay,’ he said.
The new missions will see the US return to the lunar surface for the first time since Apollo 17 in December 1972, the final mission of the crewed lunar exploration program (pictured, Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon).
He said future bases would be international, and that he hoped the US would lead the plans.