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Purdue professor talks about significance of NASA’s return to moon

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — NASA will try again Saturday to launch its new moon rocket on a test flight.

Monday’s first attempt failed due to engine trouble. The space agency said they’re changing some fueling procedures to fix the issue.

Saturday’s launch will not have anyone aboard, but, if successful, will be the first rocket to fly to the moon since NASA’s Apollo program 50 years ago. It will also pave the way for NASA to launch the first woman and person of color to the moon as soon as 2024 with an actual lunar landing scheduled for 2025.

Michelle Thompson, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University, spoke with News 8’s Phil Sanchez about the significance of that feat.

“I think it’s kind of hard to overstate how much or how important that representation is to the next generation of scientists that that are going to be developing and growing up with this program,” she said. “You know, putting the first woman and first person of color on the moon is incredible. But in addition to that, we’re putting them in these new really challenging unique environments on the moon that we’ve never been to before. And we’re going to be able to learn so much more about the history and evolution of the moon through these missions.”

NASA is targeting 2:17 p.m. EDT Saturday for launch.