ORLANDO, Fla. – NASA’s progress back to the Moon and onto Mars was a major topic at the 2022 State of NASA address Monday afternoon.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson gave the annual address from Kennedy Space Center.
Nelson provided updates on NASA’s commercial space program and its deep space exploration program, including the recent rollout of the rocket for the Artemis I mission, climate change and more. Engineers plan to conduct a wet dress rehearsal, a crucial step before launching Artemis, April 1 through April 3.
Nelson also discussed NASA’s announcement last week that it would solicit bids for new companies to build Moon landers for missions following the first Artemis Moon landing mission, expected to happen in 2025.
NASA’s 2023 funding request was also released Monday. The Biden Administration is requesting $26 billion for NASA in 2023, up $2 billion from the previous year. How much money NASA actually gets will be decided by Congress.
It’s all leading to eventually putting a man on Mars. Nelson said the space agency is requesting funds to begin building infrastructure for an eventual Mars trip, buoyed by information obtained through the Mars rover missions.
“The destiny of the human spirit is to explore,” Nelson said. “Ladies and gentlemen, Mars is calling us.”
The commercial space program is also moving ahead with the future of low Earth orbit.
NASA signed agreements last December with three American companies to develop designs for space stations and other commercial destinations for low Earth orbit, with the goal of keeping an uninterrupted presence space beyond the life of the International Space Station, which is expected to be retired in 2030.
“That’s why it’s critical to leverage the speed and invalidate innovation of the commercial sector as we move forward,” Nelson said.
Adapting to climate change
NASA scientists are also working on technologies to help mitigate and adapt the effects of climate change.
“What’s clear is that if we can measure this climate crisis, we can mitigate it,” Nelson said. “That’s NASA’s expertise. Eight of the top 10 warmest years on our planet occurred in the last decade. This is indisputable, and underscores the need for bold action to safeguard our future. The president’s budget will empower NASA to launch an Earth Information Center.”
Nelson said this Earth Information Center will work with other agencies and partners to monitor greenhouse gas and integrate data from observatories and other sources so we have precise data on what is happening to the planet.”
This budget will give us the capacity to act more boldly and with greater urgency in trying to help save our planet,” Nelson said.
Nelson said NASA engineers are also working on cleaner aviation technology that is also faster, smoother and safer.
Nelson said the X-57 all-electric aircraft will fly this year, as well as the X-59, a supersonic but low sonic boom flight that can fly over populated areas. If successful, this would cut flight time in half.
NASA is also trying to expand interest in space, science and exploration to everyone with programs to expand STEM education, through an initiative called Mission Equity.
Nelson pointed out that NASA launched its first-ever Spanish language broadcast with the Mars Perseverance landing, along with comic book for elementary school children about a fictional woman exploring the moon. He described the upcoming generation as the Artemis generation.
The whole of Nelson’s presentation included videos with a diverse group of employees in different divisions.
“I believe this agency personifies the American story. It’s a story that is neverending because of the work to create a more perfect union does not end,” Nelson said. “We have much work to do, but this is the work we must do together.”