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Charles Bolden  (Source:
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden doesn't see the point of another trip to the moon

There seems to be some differences in opinion around NASA concerning whether the goal of human space exploration should be to land on an asteroid or take another trip to the moon.

The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board held a meeting in Washington last week, where the topic of asteroid vs. moon took place.

Al Carnesale of UCLA said there wasn't much enthusiasm for an asteroid landing since its initial announcement. It's been almost three years since President Barack Obama officially released plans to land on an asteroid by 2025. 

“Since it was announced, there was less enthusiasm for it among the community broadly,” said Carnesale. “The more we learn about it, the more we hear about it, people seem less enthusiastic about it.”
“There’s a great deal of enthusiasm, almost everywhere, for the Moon. I think there might be, if no one has to swallow their pride and swallow their words, and you can change the asteroid mission a little bit… it might be possible to move towards something that might be more of a consensus.”

However, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden disagrees. He said that NASA will gladly participate if another nation agrees to lead a human lunar landing, but NASA will not plan one of its own. 

“They all have dreams of putting human on the Moon,” said Bolden. “I have told every head of agency of every partner agency that if you assume the lead in a human lunar mission, NASA will be a part of that. NASA wants to be a participant.”
“NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission. NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things.”

Bolden believes NASA should stick to the plan of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. 

“We intend to do that, and we think it can be done," said Bolden. 

Source: Space Politics

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RE: International Moon Base?
By MozeeToby on 4/8/2013 5:34:12 PM , Rating: 0
The problem is that a moon base does not make for a particularly good jumping off point, even if you assume we can mine and refine fuel from materials on the lunar surface (which is highly questionable). The problem is the amount of delta V it takes to land on the moon then launch again means that you don't actually gain that much even if you refuel there. And even the lower gravity will make building a large spacecraft more difficult (and more expensive in terms of weight and therefor fuel) than it needs to be.

If you want to explore the rest of the solar system, you need a carbonaceous chondrite asteroid captured in low earth orbit with a base of operations processing water and organics into rocket fuel. You have to make orbit to go anywhere in the first place so you don't waste fuel slowing down to pull into the gas station. And you're already in a weaker gravity well than you would be on the lunar surface.

In other words, if you want to explore the solar system, an asteroid capture mission and a manned asteroid exploration mission are the best way, long term, to go.

RE: International Moon Base?
By M'n'M on 4/8/2013 6:17:19 PM , Rating: 2
Your concern is the delta V needed and yet you think moving an asteroid is the future ?

The good thing about the Moon is you don't need a rocket to move things from it's surface to LMO or beyond.

RE: International Moon Base?
By delphinus100 on 4/8/2013 8:15:37 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. Perhaps an argument can be made for sending oxygen produced from the Lunar regolith (effectively unlimited...the O2 in the ice there may or may not be too rare, and too valuable for life support right there) for chemical rocket oxidizer, life support, and commercial/industrial purposes back in Earth orbit...but that's all.

The Moon has its own reasons for permanent human habitation, but you don't go down into one gravity well, in order to reach another. Assembling and staging deep-space flights is what LEO is for. And utilizing local resources for your mission, if you can, is what you do at the destination, not through a detour.

RE: International Moon Base?
By ghost49x on 4/12/2013 12:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, to build a large space faring craft we would need some sort of space dock in orbit. But so far there are other obstacles preventing us from exploring our solar system using a manned vessel. Space Radiation being a big one.

RE: International Moon Base?
By Exirtis on 4/12/2013 12:54:56 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is the amount of delta V it takes to land on the moon then launch again means that you don't actually gain that much even if you refuel there.

If you're thinking in terms of rocketry you may be correct. But because of the reduced gravity of the lunar environment a space-elevator becomes a legitimate option, since it's within the reach of current materials technology to cope with it.

With a functioning space elevator in place, escape velocity becomes irrelevant; electric motors running at a leisurely pace can supply all the delta V that's needed to hoist materials & equipment up & down the anchored cable.

There's at least one company, called Liftport, that is already actively engaged in research and planning for a moon-based space elevator (video & link at comment's end). More companies are likely to follow as the private aerospace industry matures, but they definitely will as soon as anyone reaches certain demonstrable milestones.

Even without a space elevator, however, various kinetic launching systems (utilizing maglev rails, for example) become more compelling possibilities without the obstacles of the Earth's deeper gravity well and comparatively crowded surface to overcome.

A Lifport lunar elevator video:
The space elevator page on their website (with lunar section):

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