NASA presents two ideas for life on the moon

At a time when most large space programs are discussing plans for possible lunar missions and bases, NASA recently outlined some basic plans it has for moon exploration.  During the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Long Beach, Calif., NASA engineers gave attendees a glimpse into what the U.S. space agency is working on.

Instead of housing astronauts in small habituation modules, astronauts will likely live in one of three large habitats.  The larger living areas logistically make more sense since hardware and modules wouldn't need to be sent up each trip.  Although nuclear power was one of the more popular methods to help power the housing location, Doug Cooke, a NASA official who is the head of the lunar research group, claims solar power should be the power method used.  

Also presented was a pair of rovers that will allow astronauts to cruise up to 600 miles in a pressurized environment.  The pressurized cabin will allow astronauts to travel long distances wearing more comfortable clothing instead of a spacesuit the entire trip.  Engineers expect the new rovers to be close to the size of the unpressurized rovers that were used during the NASA Apollo mission.

The U.S. space agency hopes to send astronauts to the moon sometime in 2020, though several issues must be fixed before that can happen.  The major roadblock is that the U.S. space agency has to create and deploy a new generation shuttle before seriously planning out lunar missions.

Russia, China, Japan and India all have space programs that have high hopes of moon exploration in the next 25 years.  Along with individualistic plans each space program has, 14 international space agencies agreed earlier in the year to work together.

The private sector also showed strong interest in lunar hotels and bases in the past, though nothing concrete has been announced recently. 

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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