The Space Agency has published its updated road map and outlines plans to launch a space station on the moon next year.
NASA has just released an absolutely stunning announcement about their updated road map of how to launch a space station on the Moon next year. The roadmap shifts the focus away from Mars and back to the object that fascinated us in the 1960s and 1970s, with the ambitious goal of building a lunar station from 2019.
The move comes after President Trump guided NASA to focus on the Moon rather than Mars. However, the agency does not abandon its plans for the Red Planet and instead uses the Moon and a space station as a "starting point" for a possible mission to Mars.
Our return to The Moon will look much different than during the Apollo program. On the one hand, it's about building a permanent presence, not just a quick visit. And it will also involve commercial and international partners, unlike the last time it was a purely American government effort.
The full explanation of NASA follows below.
NASA is focusing on an ambitious plan to promote US space program increasing scientific activities near and on the moon and ultimately the return of people to the surface
As part of the budget proposal for the 201
"The Moon will play an important role in extending the human presence more deeply into the solar system," said Bill Gerstenmaier, deputy head of the Human Resources Directorate Exploration and Operations Mission at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Together with the capabilities provided by the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, these missions will usher in a new era of exploration of the Moon and its resources and provide a training ground for human missions to Mars."
NASA plans to register a number of commercial robotic landers and rockets to meet the requirements for lunar payload delivery and service. The Agency will publish a draft call for proposals this Spring to launch commercial lunar payload service contracts for surface delivery as early as 2019.
This call, which is open to all domestic commercial providers, complements ongoing NASA efforts to stimulate the emerging space economy. The LUNAR CATALYST partnerships have already helped to improve commercial capabilities to deliver small payloads to the lunar surface.
NASA is also interested in understanding and developing requirements for future human landers. Developing medium-payload countries (500 to 1,000 kg – about the size of a smart car) allows for the development of large, human-owned lunar countries (5,000 to 6,000 kg). In addition, this class of lander can support larger payloads for the Moon by addressing science and exploration objectives such as sample return, resource prospecting, in situ resource use demonstration (ISRU), and others.
The agency will seek information from the industry Later this month for greater Lander development, and determine how best to proceed with potential partnerships. NASA plans to pursue this effort by calling for partnerships between NASA and the industry. The first of two mid-scale commercial missions for the Moon for NASA could begin as early as 2022.
The campaign, supported by scientific and technological projects and activities, aims for a seamless collaboration between NASA using agency, commercial and international partnerships for a common goal
"This agency-wide strategy will inspire and empower humanity "Taking the next bold steps to our moon neighbor," said Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "As American innovations pave the way, partnerships and opportunities will be broadened with US industry and other nations."
NASA's intrepid robotic explorers provide vital data to support future exploration plans. The organization's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to investigate the lunar surface from orbit and provide data needed for future robotic and human landers. Plans are underway for an improved lunar analysis campaign to ensure that data from existing Apollo samples is available for future exploration. NASA also provides ShadowCam as a US contribution to the Korea Institute's first lunar research mission, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO). ShadowCam will map the reflectivity within the permanently shaded regions to look for traces of frost or ice buildup.
A new analysis of the data from two lunar missions revealed evidence that the water of the Moon could be widely distributed over the surface of certain region or type of terrain. The findings could help researchers understand the source of the Moon's water and its feasibility and accessibility as a resource.
NASA plans to use a series of CubeSats to cost-effectively study the lunar environment. Thirteen CubeSats will launch Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of the Space Launch System and Orion. Four of them, LunaH Map, Lunar IceCube, Lunar Flashlight and LunIR, will use state-of-the-art instruments to study the abundance, locations and composition of lunar resources.
Building on lunar orbit knowledge, NASA will develop new payloads for science and technology supplied by commercial lunar countries. The ability to deploy instruments directly on the lunar surface will enhance our understanding of the lunar and its resources, and allow us to explore new technologies for exploration.
The Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway will serve NASA and its commercial and international partners as a uniquely valuable location and communication relay for space exploration and science missions. The Agency recently held a workshop to discuss how the Gateway could provide new scientific discoveries in a variety of ways, including support for missions to return lunar samples and other lunar surface activities.
"Together, the science and technology communities will continue their studies of the moon, with a focus on identifying the lunar resources that are important for exploring our Earth Companion and the Solar System and beyond," said Zurbuchen.