March 27, 2019

New five-year goal to return to the moon ‘ambitious, but achievable’

spencer-research David Spencer is an associate professor in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and project manager for LightSail 2. (Purdue Univeristy photo/Rebecca Wilcox) Download image

WHAT: NASA was directed Tuesday (March 26) by Vice President Mike Pence to step up the timeline for humans to return to the moon, setting the goal at five years via the Space Launch Systems rocket or a private space company. 

EXPERT: David Spencer, an aeronautics and astronautics professor in the College of Engineering, can talk about the status of research and technology and whether a five-year goal is feasible.

QUOTE:  “Many of the key elements needed for lunar exploration are already in development. The U.S. launch vehicle industry is in a period of rapid advancement, including heavy lift launch vehicles that can provide access to lunar orbit.  NASA's plans to establish a Gateway station in lunar orbit will provide a staging area for missions to the surface.  The Orion crew capsule is well along in its development.  Technical challenges include the development of a new human-rated landing system, and surface habitats on the moon.  Establishing a permanent human presence on the moon is the right objective, and it is a necessary goal if the U.S. is to maintain global leadership in space exploration.” 


  • Director, Purdue Space Flight Projects Laboratory
  • Associate fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Project manager, LightSail 2 Mission 



Writer: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084, 

Source: David Spencer, 765-494-8774,

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