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NASA May Unveil New Manned Moon Missions Soon


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#1 Asrokhel

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 14:05

NASA is serious about sending astronauts back to the moon's neighborhood and will likely unveil its ambitious plans soon now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected, experts say.

The space agency has apparently been thinking about setting up a manned outpost beyond the moon's far side, both to establish a human presence in deep space and to build momentum toward a planned visit to an asteroid in 2025.

The new plans have probably already been cleared with the Obama Administration but have been kept under wraps in case Republican candidate Mitt Romney won Tuesday night's (Nov. 6) presidential election, said space policy expert John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at George Washington University.

"NASA has been evolving its thinking, and its latest charts have inserted a new element of cislunar/lunar gateway/Earth-moon L2 sort of stuff into the plan," Logsdon told SPACE.com. (The Earth-moon L2 is a so-called libration point where the two bodies' gravitational pulls roughly balance out, allowing spacecraft to essentially park there.) [Gallery: Visions of Deep-Space Station Missions]

"They've been holding off announcing that until after the election," Logsdon added, noting that Romney had pledged to reassess and possibly revise NASA's missions and direction.

In 2010, President Obama directed NASA to work toward sending astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025, then on to the vicinity of Mars by the mid-2030s. To reach such deep-space destinations, the agency is developing a huge rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) and a crew capsule named Orion.

But astronauts likely won't head straight to a space rock when SLS and Orion are ready to fly together in 2021. In the last year, word has begun leaking out that NASA wants to explore Earth-moon L2, a point in space that lies beyond the moon's far side, as a precursor.

Rumors currently point toward parking a spacecraft at the Earth-moon L2 gateway, so NASA (and perhaps international partners) can learn more about supporting humans in deep space. Astronauts stationed there could also aid in lunar exploration — by teleoperating rovers on the moon's surface, for example.

NASA officials think they can pull off such manned missions without busting their budget, which stands at $17.7 billion in the proposed 2013 federal budget.

"They're not talking about plans that imply significant budget increases," Logsdon said. "It gives a more focused use for SLS and Orion before an asteroid mission."

Moon missions coming soon?

Exploration of Earth-moon L2 could get started as early as 2021 with the first manned flight of SLS and Orion, which NASA calls Exploration Mission 2. (Exploration Mission 1 is the initial, unmanned test launch of SLS, slated for late 2017.)

"I'm not privy to the specifics of this, but one could conceive of the second SLS mission being the start of activity in cislunar space, rather than just being a lunar orbit mission," Logsdon said.

We may know soon enough. NASA higher-ups have dropped hints recently that a big announcement may indeed be in the offing before too much longer.

"We just recently delivered a comprehensive report to Congress outlining our destinations which makes clear that SLS will go way beyond low-Earth orbit to explore the expansive space around the Earth-moon system, near-Earth asteroids, the moon, and ultimately, Mars," NASA deputy chief Lori Garver said at a conference in September.

"Let me say that again: We're going back to the moon, attempting a first-ever mission to send humans to an asteroid and actively developing a plan to take Americans to Mars," Garver added.














http://www.space.com...a-election.html


#2 Hum

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 15:20

We can't afford it -- we've squandered our tax money on Wars.

#3 cybertimber2008

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 15:49

We can't afford it -- we've squandered our tax money on Wars.

NASA officials think they can pull off such manned missions without busting their budget, which stands at $17.7 billion in the proposed 2013 federal budget.

"They're not talking about plans that imply significant budget increases," Logsdon said. "It gives a more focused use for SLS and Orion before an asteroid mission."

Sounds like they want to do it with the budget they already have.

#4 DocM

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 18:30

They could, but only if they & Congress toss their old ways and fully leverage the cost saving methods of the NewSpace companies; SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Bigelow, Masten, Scaled Composites, XCOR etc., and fully utilize fuel depots, cislunar tugs and build the proposed L2 Gateway Station.

Hell, most of the parts for the Gateway already exist - they were spare modules for the ISS. Falcon 9 v1.1, Falcon Heavy and the larger Atlas V's could do the heavy lifting, and the other bits have been planned and blueprinted in studies for >40 years while we wasted money on the Shuttle program. Lockheed Martin piblished one helluva proposed system several years ago.

#5 Reisen

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 18:38

I would like to see NASA land people on the moon again.

#6 redvamp128

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 19:50

Consider this- Moon missions previously created "Jobs" which in turn created products that produced some of the patents/ products we use today. And yes there was a few failures along the way such as "Astronaut Ice-Cream" but then again it was a stepping stone to perfecting the freeze dry process. This also provided the basis for heat shielding still in use today.

Not to mention- with technology advances the capsule will be lighter and more fuel efficient

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#7 Crisp

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 21:08

By today's standards, we should of built there by now and looking to Mars.

#8 cropcircles

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 21:50

We can't afford it -- we've squandered our tax money on Wars.


Agreed, its ridiculous. The US is in the pits financially and a trillion or two in debt. We've been to the moon so whats the point. If NASA can get this privately financed then go for it and have a "blast".

#9 Hum

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 21:53

^ Maybe Apple can fund it.

#10 sidroc

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 00:36

^ Maybe Apple can fund it.


They then can implement Apple maps for the new lunar base :p .

#11 redvamp128

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 00:40

Agreed, its ridiculous. The US is in the pits financially and a trillion or two in debt. We've been to the moon so whats the point. If NASA can get this privately financed then go for it and have a "blast".


If you remember history-
The US could not afford it back in the days of Mercury... but once that program got under way... with a little bit of Government funding the private sector jumped in during the days of Gemini then increased during Apollo. Not to mention also the product endorsements and the patents that were produced.

They also in the beginning diverted resources from the US Air Force... so they may do the same now.

Plus this will give them a chance to improve on the "junked" and "retired" objects from those days to learn from it.

#12 Growled

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 02:28

Did they clear this with the aliens who have a base on the dark side of the moon?