Thursday, September 27, 2012

NASA Plans Permanent Outpost Beyond The Moon

NASA Plans Permanent Outpost Beyond the Moons Orbit

While NASA’s Mars Rover is still roaming about the red planet, NASA has already set its sights on its next project.

NASA plans to build a space station 277,000 miles from Earth, placing it well behind the orbit of the moon. The new space station will be called the “Gateway Spacecraft” and will act as an outpost for a small astronaut crew, serving as a staging area for future missions to the Moon, Mars, and possibly beyond.

NASA is planning to construct the spacecraft using leftover parts from the International Space Station, as well as hardware provided by Russia and Italy. NASA will be using the under development Orion-SLS rocket to get to their destination, with the rocket’s launch taking place in 2017, and construction on the Gateway starting in 2019.

Apparently the concept of the new spacecraft has been under study for months, and that just recently NASA chief Charlie Bolden visited the White House to make his pitch for the project.

Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is a big fan of the project saying, “Those are steppingstones in confidence and training for interplanetary spacecraft. The eventual goal would be to have a human-tended station on the Martian moon Phobos, directing robots to build facilities for permanent residents on the Red Planet. Then, we make a commitment to permanence. It’s like the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.”

While this all sounds very ambitious, the project is expected to cost NASA billions of dollars. In fact, the current building on the Orion system (the spacecraft that will just get NASA to where they need to be to begin construction) is set to cost $18 billion. So, the Federal government may have a hard time justifying giving NASA more moey to make all of this a reality; although, it sure would be cool if all of this went according to plan.
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