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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: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17 2017, @06:22PM (#495405)

    There is no "lunarstationary orbit", because by the time you get that far from the Moon, Earth's gravity is far too significant to neglect; you have to treat it as a 3-body problem.

    The L1 and L2 points are what you're looking for -- because Luna is tidally locked, they are effectively stationary with respect to the lunar surface. (L4 and L5, and for that matter L3 on the far side of Earth, share this characteristic, but are too far to be practical.) Because L1 and L2 are unstable, satellites orbiting them will need some stationkeeping -- it's not clear to me whether that applies to a space elevator passing through the vicinity of L1 to a counterweight just Earthwards of L1, but either way, it's the best you're gonna get.

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