NASA wants to return to the moon in the next years, and they have made their plans public in this year’s announcement of their first contract awarded for the lunar space station in 2019. They have a boarder roadmap, and moon missions are just a part of it.
The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway will be the place where all science experiments during future moon missions will be conducted. NASA plans to also explore Mars, and the station will be a “way station” for astronauts to use on their way.
William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator, stated a few details how the agency will start working on the lunar space station. They will start building power and propulsion devices and then habitation components that will be launched in this order until 2022. After that, in about three years, the lunar station will be able to orbit the moon, having 4 astronauts aboard in mission that last 30 days.
Exploring the Moon – the First Step Towards Manned Missions to Mars
The main purpose is to get another astronaut on the moon and see if the water near the surface of the moon can be used as an ingredient for spacecraft propellant in deep-space missions. They also want to have a better understanding of the moon’s gravity, said Gerstenmaier:
“We want to understand orbital mechanics around the moon a little better, far from the Earth’s deep gravity well.”
After the lunar space station is ready to board astronauts, they will arrive there via the Orion. Before that, Orion will first be sent on its first flight without a crew in 2019 and then it will be used as the command deck of the platform.
Gerstenmaier stated in a news release in March that NASA’s lunar travel is very important, being the first step before they venture into the solar system. With the lunar space station up there, NASA will be ushered “in a new era of exploration of the moon and its resources”, preparing them for future manned missions to Mars.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere