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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: 1) by anotherblackhat on Monday April 17 2017, @05:38PM (7 children)

    by anotherblackhat (4722) on Monday April 17 2017, @05:38PM (#495372)

    I wonder if anyone [wikipedia.org] has considered other possible locations.

    Is this "station orbiting the moon" a serious NASA proposal, or is it just something someone who works at NASA mentioned in a blog post?

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday April 17 2017, @06:04PM (5 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 17 2017, @06:04PM (#495392) Journal

    The moon is probably the best possible location for such a satellite.

    Consider.

    If you want to attack the surface of the moon, you just drop a weapon into the moon's gravity well.

    If you want to attack an Earth satellite, operated by people with a religion or skin color disfavored by the administration in power at the time; then launching the attack from the moon requires less energy than launching from the earth. A lower uphill climb.

    If you want to attack an Earth surface target, an attack coming from space can make use of the Earth's gravity well and be pretty unstoppable. Even if Earth based infrastructure is destroyed. The launch comes from a lunar satellite.

    The problem with such a lunar satellite, just like with nuclear weapons and v1agra is that soon every fascist dictator on the block will want one.

    --
    Trump is a poor man's idea of a rich man, a weak man's idea of a strong man, and a stupid man's idea of a smart man.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 17 2017, @06:15PM (4 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 17 2017, @06:15PM (#495399) Journal

      No one has mentioned a fact that seems rather obvious to me. The moon is further up the earth's gravity well than anything else that we have orbiting the earth. It isn't at the very top of the earth's gravity well, of course, or it would escape in the near future. But, it is within spitting distance of the top of the well. Vehicles and payloads assembled in moon orbit will require a lot less energy to launch, than if they were launched from a closer earth orbit.

      But, I'm amused at the article's to lunar orbit as a "deep space gateway". I realize that space flight is still in it's infancy, but could we reserve references to "deep space" for at least as far out as the gas giants? It's like a child walking to the house next door, and feeling like he's explored the New World. "Deep Space" should at least be comparable to the next block down the street.

      --
      We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:41PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:41PM (#495417)

        Well, eventually we're going to start using atomic engines and going to other systems, right?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:03PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @07:03PM (#495428)

        Look at the rubber sheet model here [wikipedia.org] -- any "lunar orbit" is down in the lunar gravity well. The lagrange points are the only places that are actually near the top -- that's where you want to assemble your interplanetary spacecraft.

        • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @11:17PM

          by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @11:17PM (#495592)

          Actually I'd rather assemble and fuel on the surface of the Moon and launch from a many mile long EM gun (open ended hyperloop) without burning any fuel.

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anotherblackhat on Monday April 17 2017, @08:26PM

        by anotherblackhat (4722) on Monday April 17 2017, @08:26PM (#495470)

        ... could we reserve references to "deep space" for at least as far out as the gas giants?

        Robert Heinlein famously said that once you are in low Earth orbit you are 'halfway to anywhere.' 1
        Lunar orbit isn't like walking next door, it's like climbing out of a deep well and then walking next door.
        A walk to the store is farther than next door, but climbing out of the well was the hard part.

        1. Not exact, but pretty close when measured in amount of delta-V needed to get there.

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday April 17 2017, @09:38PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Monday April 17 2017, @09:38PM (#495528) Journal

    I wonder when we get our first Stanford torus. It surely can be done right now.

    And then we have all these people saying that space mining will crash the earthly market because of oversupply. Well a torus will need a lot of materials. Diameter 1000 meter, 1 rotation every 50 seconds for 80% earth gravity, radiation protection using 2 meter lunar soil etc. It can then provide work force for space missions, robotic control where latency is an issue, food growing, tourist destination, laboratory facilities etc.

    X-factors includes heat-cooling cycles, metal fatigue, gravity bending and solar eruptions.