Sept. 22 (UPI) — NASA and the U.S. Space Force have signed a collaboration agreement that includes plans for expanded lunar exploration.
The agreement, announced Tuesday during a Mitchell Institute virtual event, also commits the two agencies to collaboration in areas that include human spaceflight, U.S. space policy and space transportation.
The agencies will work together to establish standards and best practices for safe operations in space, scientific research and planetary defense, officials said.
The new memo replaces an agreement signed 14 years ago by NASA and the U.S. Air Force Space Command to collaborate on long-term planning and exchange research and development information.
“NASA and the military share a long history dating back to the late 1950s; there is power in our partnership,” said U.S. Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond.
“A secure, stable, and accessible space domain underpins our nation’s security, prosperity and scientific achievement,” Raymond said. “Space Force looks forward to future collaboration, as NASA pushes farther into the universe for the benefit of all.”
On the same day the Space Force and NASA announced their collaboration agreement, NASA released more details on its $28 billion Artemis program to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024 — and begin to explore sending astronauts to Mars.
According to Space Force, collaboration between NASA and the military will help enable the United States to return to the moon by securing “the peaceful use of space” by U.S. and allied interests.
On Monday, the Air Force Research Laboratory announced that it is designing a pathfinder satellite to find and track objects near the moon, as well as objects that orbit the moon.