Friday, November 11, 2011
To The Moon
An artist's concept of a Bigelow inflatable lunar base. Image source: Bigelow Aerospace.
Aviation Week reports that the Moon "remains a focus for internationally sponsored missions and commercial entrepreneurs drawn to a deeper understanding of the celestial neighborhood as well as the prospect of profits from resources mined from the lunar surface."
In spite of President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel the previous administration’s lunar-oriented Constellation program, NASA is an organizational force behind the recent Global Exploration Roadmap. The roadmap represents an evolving 25-year strategy to reach Mars with either an asteroid or the Moon serving as a steppingstone. A dozen space agencies participated in the blueprint unveiled in September under the banner of the International Space Exploration Group.
NASA’s latest planning in support of the roadmap includes a lunar encampment suitable for small crews rotating through for stays of 7-28 days. The NASA-led, 15-nation International Space Station framework serves as a model for governance. In a key departure from Constellation, the global blueprint would assign “critical path” hardware—surface rovers for instance—to international participants, according to John Connolly, the destination lead for NASA’s Human Architecture Team.
Click here to access the Global Exploration Roadmap on the NASA web site.
Click here to access the related Lunar Exploration Roadmap on NASA's Lunar Exploration Analysis Group web site.
I'm glad that they're looking at a permanent lunar colony with rotating teams. The International Space Station can serve as a test bed for simulating such a facility. Although there are those who want NASA's next adventure to be a trip to an asteroid or Mars, my opinion is that the next logical step is a lunar colony — an international space station on the Moon.
Robert Bigelow proposed in April 2010 a lunar base built with his inflatable modules.