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

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.

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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:39PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @05:39PM (#495374)

    How hard do you want to push it? Push too hard, it breaks. Push too gently, it kills the crew while slowly passing through the Van Allen belts. (I suppose we can define "just right" as pushing it just hard enough some bits fly off, but at least one compartment retains pressure and keeps the crew alive until they get cooked in the Van Allen belts?)

    And if you offload the crew, push it slowly beyond the Van Allen belts, and then recrew it -- they all get to die from radiation anyway; the ISS, designed to operate deeply snuggled in Earth's magnetosphere, has no shielding to speak of.

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  • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday April 17 2017, @11:02PM

    by mhajicek (51) on Monday April 17 2017, @11:02PM (#495585)

    Add more struts.

    The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @02:04AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 18 2017, @02:04AM (#495648)

    Limit view point. Large warehouse. With base structure and power systems. You are ahead of the game. More sheilding gold foil anyone. Hell may even soft land on moon and bury it. Again many tons of hardware and space and power. Agile development?