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Shooting for the Moon

President George W. Bush recently asked scientists to set their sights sky-high. He announced a plan to send humans to the moon within the next ten years. The last United States moon mission took place more than 30 years ago.

As part of his plan, Bush wants scientists to find a way for humans to work and live on the moon. They will face many challenges trying to make this dream a reality.

The moon is Earth's closest neighbor in space, but it is more than 225,000 miles away. Conditions on the moon are very different from those on Earth. The lunar surface is dusty, cold, and covered with craters. The word “lunar” describes things that have to do with the moon.

In order for humans to live on the moon, they would have to adapt to lunar conditions. They will need special equipment to breathe because the moon has no atmosphere. An atmosphere is a layer of air that surrounds a planet or satellite.

NASA

Leaders at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) know how hard it will be to set up a work station on the moon. NASA runs the United States space program.

In July 1969, astronauts aboard NASA's Apollo 11 made the first moon landing. Since then, NASA has sent shuttles into space and to other planets. However, the moon is the only place beyond Earth that humans have actually visited.

Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon. As he stepped off his spaceship and onto the moon's surface, he said, “that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Rocket Man

President Bush wants to send a team of robots to the moon by 2008. The robots would send pictures and information back to scientists here on Earth. The robots would also prepare for later trips by humans.

The President believes that humans could make a home on the moon as early as 2015. “With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration, human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond,” he said.