NASA hopes to make space more accessible by addressing socioeconomic barriers

It's part of a broader push by the federal government to improve racial equity.

The NASA logo is seen at Kennedy Space Center ahead of the NASA/SpaceX launch of a commercial crew mission to the International Space Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (Joe Skipper / reuters)

NASA is taking steps to create more opportunities related to space, including for those from underserved and underrepresented communities, amid a broader push for improved racial equity in the federal government. The agency says its Equity Action Plan will allow it to internally and externally track progress on improving diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

The plan has four focus areas:

  • Increasing integration and utilization of contractors and businesses from underserved communities and expanding equity in NASA’s procurement process

  • Enhancing grants and cooperative agreements to advance opportunities, access and representation for underserved communities

  • Leveraging Earth science and socioeconomic data to help mitigate environmental challenges in underserved communities

  • Advancing external civil rights compliance and expanding access to limited English proficient populations within underserved communities

Among the measures NASA plans to take to address these issues in underserved communities are running more engagement events, increasing outreach and training and offering small businesses more contract opportunities. The agency is also aiming to address language barriers by updating its language access plan and expanding accessibility for populations with limited English proficiency, starting with communications in Spanish.

NASA plans to return to crewed Moon landings in 2025. Through the Artemis program, it plans to land a woman and person of color on the Moon for the first time. It has named a diverse shortlist of astronauts who are eligible for the initial flights.

“At NASA, all of our missions depend on our steadfast commitment to equal opportunity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The Equity Action plan deepens our commitment to further identify and remove the barriers that limit opportunity in underserved and underrepresented communities. This framework anchors fairness as a core component in every NASA mission to make the work we do in space and beyond more accessible to all."