Sunday, September 23, 2012

NASA wants to build deep space outpost

Credit - Boeing
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that NASA wants to build a space station on the far side of the moon. It would support a small part time crew.

This outpost would probably be based on components left over from the International Space Station. It would probably be something about the size and configuration of the ISS's Zvezda Service Module.

The station would be placed near the Earth Moon Lagrange Point 2 (L2) which is on the far side of the moon.  At this point, about 38,000 miles on the far side of the moon, the combined gravitational forces of the Earth and moon allow an object placed there to stay there with very little expenditure of energy.  Since L2 is hidden from view from Earth, the proposed station would probably be placed in a halo orbit around L2, allowing it to always be visible for the Earth.

To us this seems like the logical next step for NASA.

The Orion capsule and SLS rocket will have a place to go.  NASA and it's partners will gain invaluable experience operating in deep space, while close enough to Earth to return home quickly in an emergency.  L2 also allows easy access to the lunar surface.  Crews at the station could operate robotic explorers on the moon, practicing for similar operations from Mars orbit in the future.

All in all a lot better plan than a one off stunt to visit an asteroid.

Orlando Sentinel Article