NASA CEO Bill Nelson announced a series of groundbreaking missions on and around the moon as part of the Artemis program to prepare for a manned mission to Mars.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced a tender for the creation of an apparatus for transporting astronauts from the Gateway lunar station, which is at the design stage, to the surface of the Earth satellite. This is stated in a distributed written statement by the NASA press service.

“According to the new approach, NASA is asking American companies to propose concepts for landing modules capable of transporting astronauts between lunar orbit and the lunar surface for missions after [the program] Artemis III, which will land astronauts on the moon for the first time in more than 50 years. Built and operated in accordance with NASA’s long-term requirements for work on the Moon, the new landers will be able to dock with the lunar orbital space station, known as Gateway, increase the number of crew members and deliver more scientific and technological equipment to the surface of the satellite,” the statement says.

“As part of the Artemis program, NASA will conduct a series of groundbreaking missions on and around the moon to prepare for humanity’s next giant leap: a manned mission to Mars. Competition is critical to our success on the moon’s surface and beyond, enabling us to carry out a number of missions over the next decade,” NASA CEO Bill Nelson said.

NASA announced in the spring of 2019 that the astronaut landing program on the Moon, called Artemis, includes three stages. The first is the launch into space using the new Space Launch System launch vehicle and the Orion spacecraft, which in unpiloted mode will make several orbits around the Moon and return to Earth. The second is a flyby of a natural satellite of the Earth already with a crew on board, which is planned for 2023. At the third stage in 2025, NASA expects to deliver astronauts to the Moon, and then send them to Mars in the mid-2030s.