WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As billionaires fight to get into space, NASA is focusing on its own race to space as it gets ready for its first mission to the moon in more than 50 years.

Between the return to the moon, exploring with SpaceX and identifying flying objects, new NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is keeping busy. The former U.S. senator from Florida says he’s surrounded by inspiration to get America back into space.

“We’ve got a lot of exciting things that we’re doing,” Nelson said. “Truth be known, I’m like a kid in a candy shop.”

Nelson, a former astronaut, was sworn in as the new head of NASA this year, 35 years after he launched into orbit on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Since then, not only have the crafts changed. Who is sending them into space has changed as well.

Groups like SpaceX and Boeing are now partnering with NASA to lower the cost of space travel and help take astronauts further than ever before.

“Encouraging the development commercially of space,” Nelson explained.

Nelson pushed for the partnership when he was a senator. Now, as administrator, he’s seeing NASA take off to new heights.

In 2024, Americans will shoot for the moon for the first time in 50 years – aiming to land the first woman and potentially the first person of color on the moon.

“It reflects the diversity of our country,” Nelson said.

The first test flight is scheduled for liftoff by the end of this year in a spacecraft that could push humans further into space than ever before.

“We’re gonna launch the largest most powerful rocket ever,” Nelson said.

With the help of new partners and developing technologies, NASA is entering a new generation of space exploration. Nelson can’t wait for it to take off.

“We are right at a new dawn of the space age and it is an exciting space age,” he said.

As far as what else is out there, Nelson said he just doesn’t know – but he is working with scientists at NASA to discover what reports of UFOs may be.