NASA Torn Between Asteroid Landing, Human Lunar Exploration
April 8, 2013 2:25 PM
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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.
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RE: International Moon Base?
4/8/2013 8:05:13 PM
I'm not sure the point of the argument. You make an exceptional point and at no point you're arguing against going to the moon/Mars. In fact, I think we can all agree that humans as a species have a deep seated need to explore. And that has to move beyond Earth to other worlds or the species may not survive. We've never been in a situation where we're not expanding.
Your point about reducing cost to orbit is spot on as well. NASA was always a place to drive technology innovations. It was money well spent because it spurred so many other industries forward. New fuel and launch techniques or some sort of orbital elevator should absolutely be priority missions, even beyond sending people to the Moon and Mars. Like you said, if we can reduce cost to orbit by 10-100x then suddenly the private movements into space exploration and commercialization make all the economical sense in the world. The government, in this case, needs to pave the way. I wish more people would understand that...
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