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Moon and Mars Next: NASA Chief Visits Silicon Valley, Talks Space Program Future

Get ready for a trip to the moon. Followed by Mars.

The head of NASA visited the Bay Area on Thursday and made it clear the space agency is planning on such ambitious trips as it works with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Elon Musk.

There's been a recent buzz around the U.S. space program the likes of which hasn't been felt in a long time. It's partly because of what NASA wants to do and partly because of who it wants to work with.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made the trip to Silicon Valley from Washington to catch up with work being done at NASA Ames in Mountain View and to make it clear "we need to go to Mars."

Fresh off the news of a billion-dollar federal budget boost and a plan to return to the moon, Bridenstine said one of the keys to the future of the U.S. space program and Mars exploration is partnerships with private companies like SpaceX.

"We will take what we learn on the moon and go to Mars," Bridenstine said.

He's encouraging competition among the tech companies who are working on robotic lunar landers.

"They're also competing on innovation, how we get to Mars," Bridenstine said. "We have reusable rockets; reusable rockets are driving down the cost even further."

The lunar landers will come in handy, Brandenstine says, because after the next moon landing, the astronauts won't leave a flag on the moon; they'll stay there for training and eventually build a space station.

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