NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Director Jody Singer on Thursday explained how she plans to help put Americans back on the moon in five years.
She also shared Vice President Mike Pence’s direct message to her.
"He said, 'I really need you to do this job. Tell me what you need, and we will back you,'" she said.
Singer said after Pence's visit there’s a new push to figure out the design for the Space Launch System, or SLS, that's being built in Huntsville.
"It was really great having the vice president here to be able with the Space Council to say, 'yes, go forward, accelerate, go to the moon,' and to know that Marshall Space Flight Center is a huge part of that," she said.
Singer said the SLS is the only heavy lift launch vehicle capable of lifting humans, technology and robots they'll need in space to the moon.
"We're working on the systems it takes to get there and we are doing everything in our power to make sure it gets there as promised," she added.
Marshall Space Flight Center is also working with Johnson Space Center in Texas to develop an ecosystem for astronauts who could live on a space station to orbit the moon. It would be called the Gateway. This space station would allow NASA and it's partners to access more of the lunar surface and support both human and robotic missions. NASA called the SLS a backbone to build the Gateway and transport astronauts to and from earth.
"We're always focused on delivering our mission, so with the Space Launch System which is critical to enabling those missions, we know we have to deliver. Our focus as it always has been is on Exploration Mission 1 and Exploration Mission 2 which will be the first crew flight," she said.
Singer called the accelerated timeline a challenge but stressed NASA is already working closely with contractors to make sure they have the proper tools and infrastructure to build the vehicles.
"I think as we are executing our mission for deep space exploration. It's always going to be important that we as NASA work with as we always have done with our partners. We do have to find innovative ways to make it happen, but our partners have always been and will continue to be a part of the success for this nation," she added.
Singer said she's in constant contact with the directors at Kennedy Space Center and Johnson Space Center. Johnson Space Center is working on the Orion capsule that would hold the astronauts for the crewed missions. Kennedy Space Center is working on the launch pad for the Space Launch System and the Orion.
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