Zurbuchen shared a series of tweets highlighting what NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine had to say during the Monday announcement, which included the presentation of the 2020 budget for the space agency.
Bridenstine tesified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on what is being deemed "the new space race". As the water is readily available on the lunar surface, further studies will help us plan the future lunar mission with low costs involved.
Bridenstine said that the agency's budget is "strong".
NASA's SLS, or Space Launch System, rocket, could do everything in one fell swoop.
The samples were purposefully saved when they were returned from the moon during the peak of the space race with the USSR because NASA wanted to wait for more advanced technology to observe the lunar dust.
A test flight of the Orion capsule was launched in early 2015 aboard a Delta IV rocket built by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. But the agency is just now "understanding how hard this project is and that it is going to take some additional time", he said, adding that second launch of Orion with a crew should still belong to SLS.
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To meet that deadline, the administrator said he has tasked the agency to look into how to accomplish the June 2020 deadline.
He also said that regardless of who lands on Mars first, women will be included in NASA's next trip to the moon - a much closer goal.
After the hearing, Bridenstine told the industry publication Space News that he hadn't spoken with ULA or Elon Musk's SpaceX about using their heavy-lift vehicles for the EM-1 mission.
This illustration made available by NASA shows the Space Launch System during liftoff.
Meanwhile, the SLS is still in the construction phase, with engineers now building out the structure and adapters that allow it all to fit snugly together, and NASA seems confident that the multi-billion-dollar mission is shaping up nicely. Orion is being built by Lockheed Martin, and the service module is being provided by the European Space Agency and its partner, Airbus Defense and Space.
Changes to the SLS program where the most significant year on year. "While I agree that the delay in the SLS launch schedule is unacceptable", Shelby said, "I firmly believe that SLS should launch the Orion".