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NASA administrator Jim Bridenstein wants to focus on the first “A” in his agency’s name: aeronautics.   He was in Wichita Monday for a visit hosted by Kansas Senator Jerry Moran to talk about the “next giant leap” for America’s space agency after the Apollo program that took men to the Moon.

Bridenstein said it’s an exciting time with direction from the White House to return to the Moon in five years and use that experience to get to Mars.  He said the new program will be called Artemis, named after the sister of Apollo in Greek mythology.   He said “Now is the time to learn what we need to learn so that ultimately we can go to Mars.”    The plan will be to land near the south pole of the Moon, where water ice has been discovered, and that can be used to sustain a presence on the Moon.

Bridenstein said NASA will be a “customer” working with commercial partners and other nations for space exploration and the development of technology that can be used on Earth.

Bridenstein also said NASA will be investing in projects for “urban air mobility,” involving air taxis to take people from one part of a city to another, and vehicles that can deliver packages to customers.  He said there is a cluster of technological capability in Wichita to help develop these vehicles, and Wichita could be the Detroit for this new industry.

Senator Moran said he invited the NASA administrator to Wichita to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and to talk about the next 50 years in space and aeronautics.   He said Monday’s event would also be a showcase for Wichita, Kansas City and other communities in the state and the opportunities that Kansas has to participate in manufacturing for future aviation and space programs.

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