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“Fly me to the moon…OK”

SpaceX founder and chief executive officer Elon Musk tweeted on Feb. 27, following the company’s announcement of two civilians offering to take a trip to the moon.
Over six decades ago, Americans were excited and unified over the nation’s huge steps of progression into aerospace with the birth of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In 2017, Americans may have another opportunity to unify over the possibility of NASA sending another man to the moon.
NASA’s Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot announced on Feb. 15 that NASA is currently working on a new rocket, SLS. They are also working on a spacecraft called Orion that will help launch humans into space. NASA is planning on sending a test spacecraft in 2018 called EM-1 that will orbit and return to the moon unmanned. Its purpose is to demonstrate the stability of the hardware. However, Lightfoot is eager to start this mission, and has confirmed testing to see if they can fit a man into EM-1.
“I know the challenges associated with such a proposition, like reviewing the technical feasibility, additional resources needed, and clearly the extra work would require a different launch date,” Lightfoot wrote to his employees earlier this month. “That said, I also want to hear about the opportunities it could present to accelerate the effort of the first crewed flight and what it would take to accomplish that first step of pushing humans farther into space.”
Over the years, former presidents have discussed returning to the moon. In 2004, George W. Bush was one of the first presidents to discuss going back to the moon and constructing a new booster and spacecraft with the hopes of visiting Mars. When former president Barack Obama came into office, the feat of going to the moon was dismissed, but another project was suggested. He announced that he wanted to fund a NASA enterprise to robotically capture an asteroid and redirect it closer to the Earth-moon system.
“In 2010, when the president said we were going to an asteroid that was no easy feat. When you look at the moon and Mars, they’re actually closer to Earth so we can track them and we know when to launch. Asteroids are a little different,” said Lightfoot. “They come and go and they are sometimes hard to track. Even harder would be to take humans to an asteroid, which would require a minimum of 180 days. You’ve got to have life support, you’ve got to have radiation protection.”
The two SpaceX volunteers have paid a substantial amount amount of money and have showed high interest in the matter to go to the moon by next year, 2018. While NASA may not be the first to launch a human being into space, it looks like the space race is back on in the U.S.