* Donald Trump tells Nasa to send astronauts to Mars In addition, Nasa and SpaceX teamed up on a successful flight earlier this month that makes it likely US astronauts will no longer need Russian rockets to reach the orbiting lab.
"The coincidence of all sorts of space developments makes it a special year, starting with the Apollo 50th anniversary," said space historian John Logsdon, referring to the 1969 moon landing that captivated the country a half-century ago.
The Trump administration's decision to pivot back to the moon began in 2017, but those efforts took shape in February when Nasa announced it was inviting companies to partner with the agency on specific aspects of a return, including the establishment of a "gateway" staging ground in the lunar orbit.
Nearly eight years after Atlantis completed Nasa's last space shuttle mission, Americans might soon be returning to the space station on US rockets launched from US soil.
"This year, American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets," Trump told a national audience during his annual State of the Union speech in February.