WASHINGTON—Calling it the next great milestone in mankind’s journey into outer space, NASA officials boldly declared in a press conference Friday that a mass shooting would occur on the moon no later than 2055.

The panel of NASA administrators and scientists said that, given the current rate of progress in research and development, the space agency was on track to place a deranged gun-toting madman on the moon by the middle of this century, with officials expressing confidence that a double-digit body count on the lunar surface would be a reality within the majority of Americans’ lifetimes.

“While such a feat may have seemed inconceivable just 10 years ago, it is our belief that a cold-blooded shooting rampage on the moon is no longer a fantasy,” said administrator Charles Bolden from NASA’s headquarters, unveiling the agency’s four-decade plan to construct a lunar colony capable of sustaining a human society against which a lone gunman would feel a psychotic compulsion to lash out. “Indeed, with enough funding, ingenuity, and America’s pioneering spirit, we can ensure that a shocking act of unspeakable horror will claim the lives of dozens of innocent, unsuspecting lunar colonists by 2055.”

“So when you look upon the moon at night, do so with the knowledge that one day in the not too distant future a man will walk out upon the lunar surface and take those first unforgettable gunshots at his fellow residents and thereby shatter the innocence of an entire moon colony forever,” Bolden continued. “I can assure you that it is not a matter of if, but when.”

According to Bolden, by 2045 NASA plans to begin sending residents to inhabit pressurized lunar housing pods on the Mare Tranquillitatis and the Ptolemaeus crater. By 2047, Bolden said, the colony’s paranoid and unhinged members should begin stewing over their perceived persecution, authoring barely comprehensible manifestos, and amassing massive stockpiles of ammunition.

NASA officials also laid out long-term plans to grow their initial settlement by constructing universities, office buildings, places of worship, and shopping centers across the lunar surface, any one of which, they noted, could serve as both the blood-spattered, body-strewn location of the moon’s first grisly shooting rampage as well as the eventual memorial site for those lost.

Bolden noted, however, that the space agency expects to attain a number of intermediate benchmarks before the mass lunar shooting. According to projections, researchers anticipate the first workplace shooting aboard the International Space Station within the next 10 years. Additionally, Bolden stated that NASA expects its first zero-gravity murder-suicide by 2035, with researchers predicting the first armed orbital standoff will end with a botched, bloody raid by authorities just several years thereafter.

“2055 is certainly an ambitious target date, but we believe that with dedication and hard work, we can ensure that a deeply troubled young man bursts through a lunar airlock and begins firing indiscriminately at men, women, and children before placing the gun to his own space helmet and taking his own life,” said Project Manager Scott Robles before cautioning that it will take decades to create a lunar society with the proper substandard mental health system to overlook the clear red flags coming from the future mass murderer. “Moving from our current situation, in which we have no permanent presence on the moon, to one in which panicked moon residents gather outside the grisly scene and make frantic, teary-eyed phone calls to determine if their loved ones are among the dead simply won’t happen overnight. But I know this country has what it takes to make this bold vision a reality.”

Provided that NASA is able to adhere to its timeline, Robles estimated that the 2055 mass shooting would usher in a wave of smaller landmarks, including the moon’s first candlelight vigil, the first presidential visit to comfort grieving space colonists, and the first emergency lockdown and escape-pod drill at the lunar high school.

In addition, Robles added that, following the gruesome tragedy, the moon colony would be on track to hold its first entirely futile and ineffective effort to impose gun control laws in 2056.

In his closing remarks, NASA administrator Bolden offered a stirring vision to reporters, declaring that the mass shooting on the moon was not an end in itself, but rather represented “just the beginning” of countless horrific and senseless public massacres in outer space.

“We believe that the 2055 shooting will be just the first of many such horrendous acts that will help prepare American space colonists for eventual mass shootings on Mars, on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and on future deep-space voyages to worlds unknown,” Bolden said. “Rest assured that wherever this great country ventures in our solar system and beyond, this time-honored tradition will always come along with us.”