Photo Gallery: NASA's New Mission to the Moon

Photo: Artist's conception of new NASA vehicle
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An artist's conception depicts NASA's new spaceship, which officials unveiled September 19 as part of the next generation of spacecraft to take astronauts back to the moon.

If this rocket looks like a blast from the past, you're partly right. The new design borrows heavily from the Apollo program, which carried out lunar missions from 1968 to 1972.

In place of a reusable shuttle, rocket boosters will carry an Apollo-style crew capsule (the white cone at the top of the craft) into orbit. Once in space, the capsule will rendezvous with a lunar landing module launched by a separate cargo rocket.

NASA's new goal is to have astronauts back on the moon by 2020. The agency has scheduled unmanned missions between 2008 and 2011 to map out landing sites and to find a spot for a permanent moon base.

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