The space agency’s Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make the announcement at 2 p.m. ET Thursday. “Working with U.S. companies is the next step to achieving long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and Mars,” NASA said in a statement.
The Trump administration has cited Moon missions a key element of the 2019 NASA budget. President Donald Trump wants U.S. astronauts to return to the Moon as a foundation for future Mars missions.
In December, Trump signed a policy directive instructing NASA to "refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery." The move, Trump said, "marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 for long-time exploration."
The last time a human set foot on the Moon was during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. Only 12 men, all Americans, have set foot on the Moon.
Mars also looms large in America’s space future. NASA’s long-term goal is to send a manned mission to the Red Planet in the 2030s.
As part this effort, NASA’s unmanned InSight Lander touched down on the Martian surface Monday, becoming the space agency’s first probe to reach the Red Planet in six years/
Fox News Chris Ciaccia and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers