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
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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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