Americans aren't just returning to the moon for the first time since 1972—they're going to stay there. So says NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a bold essay that envisions astronauts exploring the moon with new technology and using the lunar surface as a base to explore Mars and other destinations, Sky News reports. "That's the mandate we’ve been given by President Donald Trump and a supportive bipartisan Congress," he writes at Ozy. "This is an exciting time to be leading America's space program."
The plan hinges on a new orbiting outpost called the Lunar Gateway that would allow astronauts to reach the moon and return at will. For now, NASA is discussing the Gateway and commercial cargo moon deliveries with nine US companies. The plan: set foot on the lunar surface within a decade. "This time, when we go to the moon, we will stay," Bridenstine writes. In related news, NASA has confirmed that China indeed landed a robotic mission on the moon's far side—the first-ever lunar mission to do so, per Science Alert. Photos were posted on a blog devoted to the NASA spacecraft that snapped pics of the Chinese mission. (Read more NASA stories.)