NASA wants to build an orbital outpost at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 with parts left over from the $100-billion International Space Station according to documents obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
At L-2, where the combined gravities of the Earth and moon reach equilibrium, an outpost can be kept in place with minimal power.
Called the gateway spacecraft, it would support a small crew and serve as a staging area for future missions to the moon or Mars.
To get there, NASA would use the massive rocket and space capsule that it is developing as a successor to the retired space shuttle. A first flight of that rocket is planned for 2017, and construction of the outpost would begin two years later, according to NASA documents….
From NASA’s perspective, the outpost would solve several problems.
It would give purpose to the Orion space capsule and the Space Launch System rocket, which are being developed at a cost of about $3 billion annually. It would involve NASA’s international partners, as blueprints for the outpost suggest using a Russian-built module and components from Italy.
So by keeping everybody’s rice bowl full NASA might grease the way through White House and Congress.
And that’s the best we can hope for from government-run space research? Sounds like we’d better keep watching the skies for entrepreneurial space development.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story]