NASA boss says first Martian 'likely to be a woman'

Space										
		
																	NASA’s deep space launch system is ‘coming together’					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner			@MikeWehner

Space NASA’s deep space launch system is ‘coming together’ Mike Wehner @MikeWehner

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine stopped by "Science Friday", a science and tech radio show, where he revealed the agency's plans to put a woman on Mars, CNN reports.

The budget - $500m (£380m) less than a year ago - will "continue building the key components of the exploration campaign that will send astronauts to the moon and beyond", NASA said.

Bridenstine was asked whether women will be included in the agency's next trip to the moon.

He replied: 'Absolutely. These are great days.' Bridenstine added: 'The first person on Mars is likely to be a woman.

Happy National Women's Month, indeed.

"The president has given us Space Policy Directive 1, which says to go back to the moon, and we're going to do that in short order - maybe even in 2019, but at least by 2020 - with commercial lunar payload services that are going to be funded through the Science Mission Directorate, and all of this is going to be possible because we're looking at going fast", Bridenstine said.

NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space.

Lead flight director Mary Lawrence will oversee the station crew from Mission Control and Jackie Kagey will serve as lead spacewalk officer.

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McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women, and today women make up more than a third of active NASA astronauts.

NASA's Stephanie Schierholz told Space.com: 'It really is the luck of the draw.

The space agency has come a long way since the 1970s when just six women were in the astronaut corps.

Pieces of that Lunar Gateway were initially set to launch on an enhanced version of NASA's upcoming Space Launch System rocket, but the budget document suggests a delay in that enhanced SLS development and allows for some components to be launched by commercial rockets.

A new $21 billion 2020 budget marks almost a six per cent increase from last year's.

"It's a privilege to have access to these special samples and we hope to contribute not only to increase our knowledge of lunar chemistry but also to improve our understanding of how to best preserve samples returned by future NASA missions".

Earth's Moon was once assumed to be a dry and dusty place, but over time that image has changed.

'We will use what we learn as we move forward to the Moon to take the next giant leap - sending astronauts to Mars'.

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