Mark your calendars.
NASA is hoping to put astronauts on Mars for the first time by 2035 — after returning to the moon by 2024, the agency’s administrator said Monday, according to Space.com.
“If we are accelerating the moon landing, we are accelerating the Mars landing,” Jim Bridenstine said during a panel discussion of space agency heads at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington DC.
“I suggest we can do it by 2035.”
Bridenstine made a similar pledge back in April but with an earlier deadline, according to the report. He suggested at a hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that astronauts will be able to walk on Mars by 2033.
NASA had originally planned to go to the moon in 2028, but sped up the timeline at the urging of the Trump administration.
By getting astronauts back on the moon more quickly, “we are by definition accelerating the humans to Mars program,” Bridenstine said during a May Humans to Mars Summit.
In a Thursday tweet, NASA’s Johnson Space Center touted one of its spacecrafts that will help the agency achieve both exploration goals.
“The @NASA_Orion spacecraft is one of the major components of our #Artemis program, which will return humans to the Moon by 2024 in preparation for future missions to Mars,” the tweet said.
NASA still needs to drum up international support for the Mars mission, to help address questions like how the agency will ensure astronauts will stay healthy and have enough food during their travel there, and manage the time delay in communications between Earth and the Red Planet, according to Space.com.
President Trump has long pushed for NASA to get Americans to Mars.
Back in June, he scolded the agency for focusing on a return trip to the moon and insisted that Mars was a better destination.
“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon — We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” he wrote.
In late May, he said during an appearance with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Japan and the US would launch a mission to Mars “very soon.”