NASA: US will need water to return to moon

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that, in order for the U.S. to go back to the moon and stay, we will need water.

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“From 1969 to 2009, we thought the moon was bone-dry. Why? Because we landed in the equatorial regions on the moon,” Bridenstine said on Friday.

But the poles of the moon are different, specifically the lunar south pole, which potentially contains hundreds of millions of tons of water ice.

But can we use it?

NASA will eventually send a rover called the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, to the lunar south pole, where it will drill for samples.

It will locate where the ice is and what other minerals and metals may also be embedded in the moon.

“Let’s go find out. That’s what this is all about -- exploration, discovery and science,” Bridenstine said.

The VIPER won’t land on the moon until December 2020, which is a little more than a year before NASA wants to send astronauts back to the surface.

Meanwhile, to get the VIPER to the moon, NASA will basically rent space on a rocket from a private company.

The hardware for the VIPER is being produced in Houston at Johnson Space Center, while some of the instruments are being worked on at Kennedy Space Center.

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