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posted by CoolHand on Monday April 17 2017, @04:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the future-vision dept.

http://www.space.com/36270-nasa-deep-space-gateway-moon-orbit.html

It looks like NASA's stepping-stone to Mars will be a miniature space station in lunar orbit rather than a chunk of captured asteroid.

The agency plans to build an astronaut-tended "deep space gateway" in orbit around the moon during the first few missions of the Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and Orion crew capsule, which are scheduled to fly together for the first time in late 2018, NASA officials said.

"I envision different partners, both international and commercial, contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions," William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C, said in a statement. [Red Planet or Bust: 5 Crewed Mars Mission Ideas]

"The gateway could move to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the moon, or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system," Gerstenmaier added.

One of those "other destinations" is Mars. NASA is working to get astronauts to the vicinity of the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s, as directed by former President Barack Obama in 2010. For the last few years, the agency's envisioned "Journey to Mars" campaign has included the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), an effort to pluck a boulder from a near-Earth asteroid and drag the rock to lunar orbit, where it could be visited by astronauts aboard Orion.

But ARM's future looks bleak; President Donald Trump provided no money for the mission in his proposed 2018 federal budget, which the White House released earlier this month.

Also see:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/deep-space-gateway-to-open-opportunities-for-distant-destinations

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a25872/nasa-cis-lunar-orbit/

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/sep/index.html


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Leebert on Monday April 17 2017, @04:19PM (9 children)

    by Leebert (3511) on Monday April 17 2017, @04:19PM (#495307)

    I think I can safely speak for most of NASA when I say:

    Just pick something you want NASA to do and stick with it, please.

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  • (Score: 2) by Snow on Monday April 17 2017, @04:39PM (2 children)

    by Snow (1601) on Monday April 17 2017, @04:39PM (#495320) Journal

    Agreed. Now get your ass to Mars.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Monday April 17 2017, @05:26PM (1 child)

      by VLM (445) on Monday April 17 2017, @05:26PM (#495361)

      Bad idea way better to build a large ground base on the moon and get all the bugs ironed out when an emergency flight home is like 2 days away rather than on Mars where the emergency flight home is much longer trip. Also you can boost a semi-continuous stream of spare parts to the moon rather than mars. Finally the gravity is weak enough on the moon to build a lunar elevator with COTS material so I'd build that first.

      And this is how they get conflicting arguments.

      Seriously though build a base on the edge of the moon (I know its a Fing sphere, I mean a location tangential to earths Line of Sight at our visual edge) with the point being that 10 miles on a moon buggy to the far side and its the quietest radio telescope location ever, and 10 miles to the earth side and you'd always have LOS laser or microwave access to home.

      If you're really bored talk to a lunar astronomer about wobble of the moon. You can do some interesting studies on the "edge" of the moon because of the wobble. but because of the wobble the "edge" is really a range quite a few miles wide (depending on lunar latitude and lots of handwaving)

      Also for a lot of reasons the "edge" of the moon is where the lunar space elevator touches down. Then you can export fuel for extremely fast landings of humans (it can take a long time to go up or down a space elevator but something like hydrazine or high conc hydrogen peroxide doesn't care too much).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @06:17PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @06:17PM (#495945)

        A space elevator won't work in the traditional sense, because the moon is tidally locked to the earth. A space elevator normally elevates to the point where geosynchronous orbital velocity is obtained. Due to the tidal locking, there is no such point on the moon.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:19PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:19PM (#495357)

    Yeah but this sounds dangerously like infrastructure.

    Did you see the comments on the earlier story about infrastructure?

    Nobody wants their money "stolen" to pay for it; they'd rather steal my money to pay for MOABs.

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @10:52PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @10:52PM (#495578)

      It's infrastructure about as much as an RV in the desert is a hotel on a freeway. You want a hotel and service station build on Luna.

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Monday April 17 2017, @08:56PM (1 child)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday April 17 2017, @08:56PM (#495489)

    Just pick something you want NASA to do and stick with it, please.

    I'm sorry, we simply cannot do that. It's impossible. We get a new political direction every 8 years at the most, possibly in 4 years, maybe 2 (since Congress shifts around every 2 years), so there's simply no way to guarantee funding for NASA for anything longer-term than that.

    The smart thing for NASA to do is to simply waste money on the big projects that they're directed to do (e.g. send humans to Mars) without actually achieving them, and try to at least get some technology developed from these failed programs that can be reused for much shorter-term missions like sending robotic probes to the moons of Saturn. It would be a lot more honest, though, if we'd simply give up on any big missions, admit to the world that we're just too dysfunctional to ever pull off anything like the Moon landing again.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @10:57PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @10:57PM (#495582)

      Trying to turn the cynicism down a bit (not that it isn't wholly appropriate) if I were in those shoes I'd try for modular, general purpose technologies. This year you want a rocked to go here with that much payload, next year it's there with that much payload. They need a modular launch system that can have multiple tubes with various numbers of engines and amounts of fuel so that the vehicle can be rapidly assembled to whatever mission parameters are given.

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday April 17 2017, @09:17PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday April 17 2017, @09:17PM (#495506) Journal

    http://planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2017/nasas-audacious-europa.html [planetary.org]

    Using a powerful boost from NASA's new heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System, the Clipper would fly directly to Jupiter and arrive in 2025. Without SLS, the journey would take five years longer, and require flybys of Venus and Earth to reach the right trajectory.

    Flying past Venus means flying closer to the Sun. Flying closer to the Sun means extra heat shielding. And extra heat shielding means a heavier spacecraft. Though Congress has ordered NASA to use SLS for both the Clipper and lander missions, the agency is still keeping the extra heat shielding in the Clipper's design for now—just in case anything derails development of the yet-to-be-flown rocket.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2015/12/congress-nasa-must-not-only-go-to-europa-it-must-land/ [arstechnica.com]

    In November Ars revealed exclusive details about a daring mission to land on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and now it has become the law of the land. The Congressional budget deal to fund NASA for the fiscal year 2016 includes $1.63 billion for planetary science, of which $175 million is designated for the “Jupiter Europa clipper mission.” It has a target launch date of 2022.

    But the new budget legislation does not stop there. It further stipulates, “This mission shall include an orbiter with a lander that will include competitively selected instruments and that funds shall be used to finalize the mission design concept.” In other words, it's against the law to fly the mission to Europa without a lander.

    Starting to see the problem yet? And this is just Europa.

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @12:28AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @12:28AM (#495622)

    They've already picked what they want to do, and they sure aren't letting go of it. They're very determined to use the SLS program to funnel federal money to the same Congressional districts that have been receiving it. What people do with the rockets after that point hardly matters.