Moon might have a precious resource

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The Moon might have a precious resource that

 could reduce NASA's Mars missions by $10 billion a year

 
By Jessica Orwig 9 hours ago




(Bloomsbury Auctions) 
Although NASA has announced that its eyes are fixed on Mars, 
it hasn't quite figured out how to get there just yet.
Turns out, the agency is exploring the possibility of returning to the Moon as a stepping stone toward Mars, and according to a recent report, this method is cheaper than current estimates — about $10 billion cheaper. Per year.
To determine if the Moon is worth returning to, NASA called upon former NASA Senior Advisor for Commercial Space, Charles Miller, and his consultant company, NexGen Space LLC, to figure out whether such a plan would make financial sense. 
So the company assembled a team of former NASA executives and engineers to figure out if the mission was possible, both economically and technically. They presented their results Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
The team discovered that, by utilizing existing partnerships with commercial service providers like SpaceX and Boeing, NASA could return humans to the Moon for "approximately 90% less than the previously estimated $100 billion," according to a NextGen press release. Ultimately, they envision a lunar base that looks something like this:




(Courtesy of the Space Frontier Foundation and the National Space Society) 
Returning to the Moon has its benefits: Scientists suspect that the lunar poles could harbor frozen water, perhaps in corners of craters that never see sunlight. That could prove useful for the astronauts headed to the Red Planet, since water is an important ingredient for rocket fuel but incredibly heavy and obscenely expensive to send into space.
The NexGen team says that if humans mined water on the Moon, they could use it as a pit stop to fuel future spacecraft on their way to Mars. The less rocket fuel fuel NASA has to send into space, the more money it saves.
Before NASA starts aiming rockets at the Moon, however, there are a few things to measure first, one of the most important being to how much water is actually on the Moon. 
"That is one of the weak parts of the study because we don't know how much [water] is on the Moon," said Christopher Kraft — NASA's first Flight Director who helped establish the agency's Mission Control operation and friend of Miller — in a YouTube clip. "If it's very little then this study would not apply."
But if it turns out the Moon does have enough water, sending it into orbit around the Moon so astronauts can fuel up could "reduce the cost to NASA of sending humans to Mars by as much as $10 billion per year," NexGen stated in their executive summary




(CNOW WATCH: NASA has released images of the other side of the Moon that we've never seen beforeourtesy of the Space Frontier Foundation and the National Space Society) 
What's more, if we established a permanent lunar base on the Moon to mine water, the project would "substantially, it not completely, pay for itself," NexGen said in their executive summary.
Despite the study's weak points, Kraft says that the NexGen team did a MJKjob addressing how NASA could, in theory, get to Mars by way of the Moon.
"I think [the report is] a very good one," Kraft said in the recorded interview. "It says that [a mission to the Moon] can be done. It will take good management and good leadership on the part of both the aerospace industry and NASA."
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