Innovating for the Future
Space plays an important role in our everyday lives, and it will only continue to grow with each passing year. Everything from communications, scientific research, national security, weather reporting, and how you find your way home with your phone depends on innovation and leadership in space. If America wants to lead on Earth, it needs to lead in space.
For more than 60 years, American aerospace companies and NASA have pushed the boundaries of innovation to build world-class spacecraft including rockets, crewed spacecraft, satellites, space habitats, and interplanetary probes. The U.S. is the only country to take humans to deep space and visit every planet in our solar system – from the Sun to beyond Pluto – with our spacecraft.
As more nations seek to expand their presence in space for commercial, scientific, and military purposes – it’s imperative that the United States remains a leader. Every dollar invested in space exploration, research, and technology is spent here on earth supporting thousands of jobs across the United States. In addition to the positive economic, scientific, and defense benefits, our leadership in space also motivates a new generation to consider careers in STEM fields which is critical to our national competitiveness.
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Humanity’s Most Important Outpost in Space
The International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is not only the world’s largest spacecraft ever assembled, but it’s also our only crewed research facility and laboratory in space. Since the first crew arrived on station in 2000, we have maintained a permanent presence off Earth. In fact, a high school senior today has never lived a day in their life without a person living off planet on the ISS.
The ISS has already provided astronauts with more than 3 times as much human spaceflight experience than the Space Shuttle program did in its entire history. That spaceflight experience has allowed for important research to be performed that has far-reaching implications for life back here on Earth. Improving clean water access, creating more effective vaccines, monitoring natural disasters, developing more efficient farming techniques, and innovating new cancer treatments are just a few of the research areas scientists on the ISS are focusing on.
Along the way, the ISS is also supporting the creation of a low Earth orbit ecosystem – a viable commercial economy – that will pave the way for space hotels and other destinations in lower Earth orbit in the future.
ISS still has much more to teach us about living and working in space and is a crucial element of maintaining America’s leadership in space. It’s critical that we continue to support and utilize one of our world’s most valuable research facilities.
Going Back to the Moon and Onward to Mars
The Space Launch System and NASA Gateway
An American hasn’t stepped foot on the Moon since 1972. It’s time to go back… and beyond. Today, NASA is preparing for its first deep space missions in nearly 50 years on the most powerful rocket in the world, the Space Launch System (SLS).
Getting to space is challenging and requires significant power and highly-advanced technology to safely transport astronauts and large spacecraft (lunar landers, habitats, etc.) for crewed missions to the Moon and Mars. The SLS has been designed from the ground up to enable any deep space mission NASA and its international partners plan. It is the only rocket with the power, performance, and human safety requirements necessary for this mission.
In the next few years, the SLS will enable NASA’s Gateway to be placed into lunar orbit. The Gateway will be a permanent outpost orbiting the moon and will allow astronauts to reach all parts of the Moon’s surface and prepare for the long trip through space to Mars.
The path back to the Moon and beyond to Mars will be difficult, but Americans will rise to the challenge and achieve humanity’s next “great leap for mankind.”
A 21st Century Space Capsule
Since the last Space Shuttle mission in 2011, America has had no independent way to get humans to and from the International Space Station. Because of this, the U.S. has had to pay an international partner for seats on their spacecraft when sending American astronauts into space. America needs its own system, and the world needs additional capacity and redundancy in space access.
The CST-100 Starliner will restore America’s independence in human spaceflight and free it from reliance on foreign governments. The Starliner is revolutionizing commercial space travel and will ferry NASA astronauts, scientists, and other private riders to and from the International Space Station and other destinations as they become operational.
Starliner is the world’s only reusable crew vehicle for orbital missions, and the only American crew vehicle capable of land returns back on Earth. This innovative design allows for Starliner to be reused up to 10 times. This important development is ushering in a new era of space travel and access to space.
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