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First Man on Mars Will 'Likely' Follow a Woman

Jim Bridenstine teases giant leap for womankind
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2019 10:05 AM CDT
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tours the Super Guppy aircraft that will carry the flight frame with the Orion crew module and service module to an Ohio testing facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center...   (Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via AP)

(Newser) – Elon Musk won't be first off the spaceship at Mars. That privilege, and the privilege of being the first person to visit the moon in 50 years or so, is "likely" to go to a woman, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told listeners of the call-in radio show Science Friday, per CNN. NASA's male astronauts outnumber females 2:1; the agency only began accepting females in 1978, six years after the last manned mission to the moon. Asked directly if a woman would therefore step foot on the moon for the first time in the coming decade, Bridenstine responded, "Absolutely." "NASA is committed to making sure we have a broad and diverse set of talent and we're looking forward to the first woman on the moon," he added.

"Innovative new technologies and systems" will make it possible "to explore more locations across the lunar surface than ever before," he elaborated in a Monday statement, touting a $21 billion proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, meant to help the agency get humans on the moon by 2028, and on Mars soon after. Though those history-making steps are still far off, the first all-female spacewalk will happen on March 29. Per CNN, US astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will spend seven hours upgrading the exterior of the International Space Station, including replacing batteries on solar arrays. Two other women are involved: Jackie Kagey will serve as lead spacewalk officer, while Mary Lawrence is lead flight director at Mission Control, reports Space.com. (Read more space stories.)

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