Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released the first National Cislunar Science and Technology (S&T) Strategy to address how U.S. S&T leadership will support responsible, peaceful, and sustainable exploration and use of Cislunar space—the large region of space in the Earth-Moon system beyond geosynchronous (GEO) orbit, including the Moon—by all space-faring nations and entities, consistent with the U.S. Space Priorities Framework. This effort builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to maintain a robust and responsible U.S. space enterprise and to advance U.S. leadership in space exploration, space science, and space sustainability.
The decade ahead is critically important for exploration of Cislunar space, including the Lunar surface. NASA estimates that over the next ten years, human activity in Cislunar space will be equal to or exceed all that has occurred in this region since the Space Age began in 1957. Many more countries and other actors are planning to travel to this new sphere of human activity.
Cislunar space offers tremendous promise for advancing science, technology, and exploration. Humanity’s activities on the Moon are uniquely inspiring for people around the world. Cislunar space provides opportunities for answering some of the highest priority questions in planetary science and exploring the history of our solar system and Sun. Cislunar space also contains radio-quiet environments that could help catalyze a new generation of radio astronomy, a valuable region for testing human exploration technologies and operations, and the potential to drive economic growth in space.
Fostering scientific discovery, economic development, and international cooperation are essential to achieving and sustaining U.S. S&T leadership in Cislunar space. The National Cislunar S&T Strategy provides a first step to addressing future opportunities for the benefit of all by laying out four key S&T objectives:
- Support research and development to enable future growth in Cislunar space. American technological endeavors begin with a positive, expansive vision of the future, led by a diverse science and engineering workforce. The Moon is a driver of scientific advances and potential economic growth. Research and development opportunities in Cislunar space range from novel discoveries in space science to the development of new Cislunar technologies to new breakthroughs in understanding the effects of the space environment on humans.
- Expand international S&T cooperation in Cislunar space. International S&T cooperation can foster peace, develop responsible practices, and create the foundations for new institutions to enable enduring human and robotic presence in Cislunar space. Continuing to grow international cooperation can also amplify objectives being achieved by the Artemis Accords by demonstrating how to explore and use outer space responsibly and to benefit all of humanity.
- Extend U.S. space situational awareness capabilities into Cislunar space. Space situational awareness enables transparency and safe operations for all entities operating in Cislunar space. This objective also contributes to early warning for potentially hazardous asteroids.
- Implement Cislunar communications and positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities with scalable and interoperable approaches. Communications and positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) are the common information capabilities needed for all activities in Cislunar space, including in Lunar orbit and on the Lunar surface. This objective will promote early information capabilities that can enable a cooperative and sustainable ecosystem in Cislunar space, lower barriers to entry and foster new commercial space activities, and advance responsible and safe spaceflight practices.
Developed through consultation with stakeholders and collaboration across U.S. government agencies, the National Cislunar S&T Strategy provides a vision and the first science and technology objectives to advance the U.S. government’s goal of responsible, peaceful, and sustainable Cislunar exploration.