NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The fastest rocket in NASA’s history is almost complete and it’s being made in New Orleans East.
The plan is to send a crew to the moon by 2024.
In a few years, the first woman and the next man will land on the south pole of the moon.
"I'm not aware of anywhere else, anywhere else on the planet that is doing what we are doing right now," said Space Launch System Engineer Michael Alldredge.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visited the Michoud Assembly Facility Thursday. He says the 2024 mission for the agency is to test the moon’s resources.
“I will tell you and the scientists will tell you that there is a lot that we still don’t know. So, we want to get to the south pole,” Bridenstine said. “We want to see what’s there. We want to utilize the water ice. Why is the water ice so important? It’s life support. It’s water to drink.”
This is part of NASA’s Project Artemis. In Greek mythology, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo.
"She happens to be the Goddess of the Moon,” Bridenstine said. “Now, when we go to the moon, we have the opportunity to go with all of America including our very diverse, highly qualified astronaut core that includes women "
Bridenstine says 90 percent of the project is complete. During Thursday’s meeting with the media, Bridenstine stood in front of the center piece of the rocket, the core stage. Crews are preparing to add the final section before moving the rocket to Mississippi.
“The Artemis program is the first step in us eventually planting an American flag on Mars,” said Bridenstine. The ultimate goal of the project is to get to Mars. Before that happens, NASA will send an un-manned rocket to the moon in 2022. Then in 2024, a crew should step foot on the south pole of the moon in the fastest rocket in NASA history.
"The capability that we have with the core stage vehicle and the SLS vehicle we have the ability to not only go to the moon but to mars," said Alldredge.
This project is part of American history with parts built in New Orleans East.
“Friends, this is where it all starts,” said Bridenstine. “This is where we are going to manufacture technologies and capabilities in this facility that are going to be transformative for generations to come.”