WASHINGTON – As NASA is working to develop a plan to pump a man into the moon, a senior White House official stressed the need for long-term sustainability that would require both a gateway and a lunar base.
Speaking at an event at the National Academy here on April 23 to mark the 50th anniversary of the University Space Research Association, Scott Pace, senior secretary of the National Space Council, said the new effort to bring forward the human moon landing is "a strategy of speed leading towards sustainability" This effort is different from the Apollo missions of half a century ago.
Pace, speaking four weeks after Vice President Mike Pennes announced a new purpose of landing the human moon in the next five years, said the accelerated timeline was designed to provide a sense of urgency to focus the agency on this goal. "That speed goal, part of the reason why the vice president made the announcement, was to provide focus and priority," he said.
"It's very, very tempting, if you have a distant goal, analyze a lot of different options, and reject tough decisions on priorities, have a clear character that you have a short-term goal and emphasizes where you think about what really matters," he continued. This focus, he said, could help create a "space organization that could travel beyond the low Earth orbit."
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NASA has not yet described in detail how it will achieve the new goal, or the budget required.The amendment to the fiscal year 2020 of the agency is under development, and may be sent to Congress as early as next week.
NASA Director-General Bridenstein, who spoke at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on April 9, also discussed what he described as a two-stage approach to the new exploration program that emphasized the first speed, followed by existing ones. The Orion spacecraft, along with the moon landers still evolve into a lunar gate that, at least initially, may involve only a small fraction of the elements previously proposed for a facility treated in the human moon path.
Pace confirmed in his presentation that the lunar gate would be relatively small in its initial version. "I would expect to see a very minimal Gateway initially, in terms of support for what we need for 2024. I see a bigger, more capable Gateway Building out as we go towards reuse."
He said the value of the gate could end up being a "gas station," allowing lunar landings, or at least some of them, for reuse. "Instead of abandoning expensive vehicles after one ride, we need to think about creating a gas station to allow repeat visits to the moon and pave the way to Mars," he said. "And that's exactly what NASA has proposed with the Moon Gate."
A "minimal" rate has raised concerns among international partners about which roles, if any, they will have in the same primary sprint for the moon. When asked about this, Pace said he met with international partners on the issue. "In the short term, the focus is building the organization that can return," he said. As the focus shifts to long-term and long-term, he said, there will be opportunities for partners to provide Gateway modules and lunar landers.
This emphasis on sustainability extends across the moon. "We need a lunar field station to conduct an investigation of the lunar surface and allow a number of sites from this station," he said. This made a decision to turn the South Pole of the Moon into a site for the initial lunar landing, which the Pace Contract is built over time and eventually consists of multiple modules with pressure zips and fissionable nuclear reactors for power. "The Moon Moon Southern Station can be an access point to the rest of the moon surface."
One of the main reasons for this in the South Pole is a potential approach to deposits of ice water that can be used to support life and as a matter. He warned, however, that the nature and accessibility of this ice is unclear, requiring research to determine whether it is possible to use any ice that exists there.
The basis can also support research in another name. "We go for a lot of reasons, science is just one of them," he says, "but on the other hand, we want to make sure that what science we do there, in fact, is driven by community assessments.
The emphasis on lunar resources has prompted an audience question why NASA canceled last year's Prospector Prospector, an agency mission that was under development to test the feasibility of ice extraction.
The agency leadership, he said, understands the value of robotic precursor missions to help understand the nature and accessibility of ice and water at the poles, which could also support "opportunistic science" that perhaps It would not have been otherwise.
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