Four months after President Trump directed NASA [nasa.gov] to return to the Moon, the agency has presented a road map to meet the goals outlined in Space Policy Directive-1 [spaceflightinsider.com]. The updated plan shifts focus from the previous "Journey to Mars" campaign back to the Moon, and—eventually—to the Red Planet.
"The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate [nasa.gov] at NASA, in a release [nasa.gov] issued by the agency.
While the revamped plan may share the same destination as the Apollo program, NASA said it will approach the return in a more measured and sustainable manner. Unlike humanity's first trip to the Moon, the journey back will incorporate both commercial and international partners.
To achieve this, NASA has outlined [nasa.gov] four strategic goals:
- Transition low-Earth orbit (LEO) human spaceflight activities to commercial operators.
- Expand long-duration spaceflight activities to include lunar orbit.
- Facilitate long-term robotic lunar exploration.
- Use human exploration of the Moon as groundwork for eventual human missions to Mars and beyond.
This may be the best outcome for the space program. Let NASA focus on the Moon with an eye towards permanently stationing robots and humans there, and let SpaceX or someone else take the credit for a 2020s/early-2030s manned Mars landing. Then work on a permanent presence on Mars using cheaper rocket launches, faster propulsion technologies, better radiation shielding, hardier space potatoes, etc.
Previously: President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1 [soylentnews.org]
Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies [soylentnews.org]
Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again? [soylentnews.org]
NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost [soylentnews.org]
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently [soylentnews.org]
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars [soylentnews.org]
Private Company Plans to Bring Moon Rocks Back to Earth in Three Years [soylentnews.org]
NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station [soylentnews.org]
India and Japan to Collaborate on Lunar Lander and Sample Return Mission [soylentnews.org]
Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway [soylentnews.org]
Can the International Space Station be Saved? Should It be Saved? [soylentnews.org]
Trump Administration Plans to End Support for the ISS by 2025 [soylentnews.org]
25 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Selected for 2018 [soylentnews.org]
Lunar X Prize Could Continue Without Google, or Even the Prizes [soylentnews.org]