Monday, 19 September 2005

Main_docked_330NASA's latest plans to return to the moon, and from there to go on to Mars, are now out, with more detail available. The spacecraft look a bit like the old Apollo ships, but looks can be deceiving:

"Coupled with the new lunar lander, the system sends twice as many astronauts to the surface as Apollo, and they can stay longer, with the initial missions lasting four to seven days. And while Apollo was limited to landings along the moon's equator, the new ship carries enough propellant to land anywhere on the moon's surface.

"Once a lunar outpost is established, crews could remain on the lunar surface for up to six months. The spacecraft can also operate without a crew in lunar orbit, eliminating the need for one astronaut to stay behind while others explore the surface."

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Monday, 19 September 2005 19:06:01 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Tuesday, 20 September 2005 10:13:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)

Bigger, faster, cheaper? From the story, it seems like it will take us longer (~13 years to first landing), and cost us more. And bigger can possibly refer to a bigger presence on the moon, but is far more likely to refer to a bloated program.

And seriously, does anyone think that a pie-in-lunar-orbit idea like this is going to (a) survive the congressional scalpel, (b) last in it's final form through 3 more presidential administrations, and (c) really show big government science and engineering is nimbler than the entrepreneurial space programs of SpaceX and others?

All best,
Tuesday, 20 September 2005 19:17:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
That was supposed to be a little sarcastic, the headline that is. I think the private sector will do amazing things, but it's also exciting to see NASA thinking more aggressively about the future. But you're right - the provate sector can certainly do it faster, for less and more efficiently. :)
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