For the first time in over 50 years, NASA astronauts are back at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). With a brand-new moon mission just over the horizon, NASA scientists and engineers recently returned to the Site and its world-class craters to train and prepare a new generation of astronaut candidates.
No humans have set foot on the moon since 1972, when the last of a dozen American astronauts trod the lunar surface during NASA’s Apollo program. Those explorers greatly expanded our knowledge of humanity’s place in the universe, and NASA’s new Artemis program is set to pick up where Apollo left off by building a sustainable presence on the moon and preparing for the first manned missions to Mars, likely in the 2030s.
Similar to the Apollo program, NASA’s Artemis training program takes astronaut candidates around the world in search of realistic lunar terrains—and that’s why NASA has returned to the NNSS. No other place on Earth has as many large, deep craters as the NNSS, and no other place has Icecap Tower. The dimensions of the Lunar Lander that will return Americans to the moon are nearly identical to the dimensions of the Icecap Tower in Yucca Flat. Combined with an abundance of nearby craters, Yucca Flat is the perfect place to test equipment and train candidates.
NNSS Geologists Nick Downs and Bryan Eleogram have worked for over a year to bring NASA back to the NNSS, and due to their efforts, this recent training exercise will be the first of many to come. As space become increasingly critical to U.S. national security, it is fitting that NNSS continues to play a mission-critical role in securing America’s defense and advancing America’s interests in an exciting and unique way.
Learn more about the training exercises and get a peek at some of the equipment involved in our latest video, “NASA at NNSS.”