At a conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston last week, Jim Bridenstine, a top official of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), told reporters that the agency wants “lots of humans in space,” according to Space.com.
Bridenstine, who became the top official in April, had a meeting with Space.com and other journalists, during which he spilled the beans about a new program that plans to construct ‘Gateway’ modules to orbit the moon and close gaps in space exploration. Each gateway module would be a spacecraft that orbits the moon rather than a land-based settlement, which would be easier for astronauts to stay in low orbit and conduct brief surface missions lasting between one and two months.
“When you look back at history, look back at the end of the Apollo program, 1972 when we didn’t go back to the moon… you look back and there was a period of time there after Apollo and before the space shuttles when we had a gap of human spaceflight capability,” Bridenstine said. “And then you go forward and look at the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011, and now we’re getting to the point where we’re ready to fly commercial crew. We’ve got a gap of about eight years in our ability to fly crew into space.
“When we think about the [end of the] International Space Station, we want to make sure that a gap doesn’t materialize,” he said. “I believe it is important to do everything in our power to prevent another gap from occurring and that is why it is important to start this conversation now.”
Bridenstine told reporters that NASA should had taken the opportunity to explore the moon almost a decade ago:
“If you go back to 2009, the United States, through NASA, made a critical discovery, which is the moon has hundreds of billions of tons of water ice. To me, that should have changed our direction immediately,” he said. “From 1969, when we first landed on the moon, up until 2009, a lot of people believed that the moon was bone-dry. In 2008, the Indians did an experiment and they realized there was water ice on the moon and then we did an experiment and realized how much water ice could potentially be on the moon at the poles.”
“So the question is — during those 40 years, we missed that. What else have we missed?”
The NASA Administrator said: “What we don’t want to do is go to the surface of the moon, prove that we can do it again, and then be done.”
“We want to go to stay. And the Gateway, in my view – I’ve been convinced – enables us to take advantage of commercial and international partners in a more robust way so we are there to stay, it enables us to get to more parts of the moon than ever before, and it enables us to get to Mars.”
What is the Lunar Orbital-Platform Gateway?
This Lunar-tic ? wants to build a space station that will orbit the moon and be a #Gateway to #Mars for total deep space domination! Who will stop him!?!? No one, it’s his job. Meet #BoeingSpace lunar orbital platform engineer David Pederson at #FutureCon! @AwesomeCon pic.twitter.com/ubWZJQCHVu
— Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense) March 30, 2018
Last week, Bridenstine spoke of continued exploration on the moon with Reuters TV in Washington, citing evidence of water on the surface. He said: “We know that there’s hundreds of billions of tons of water ice on the surface of the moon.”
NASA scientist Sarah Noble told Reuters separately by phone that there are still many unanswered questions about moon ice. She said it is still unknown how much ice is present on the moon and how space explorers plan on extracting it in sufficient quantities for practical use.
“We have lots of models that give us different answers. We can’t know how much water there is,” she said, adding that it will ultimately take surface exploration by robotic landers or rovers, in more than one place, to find out.
Although the moon was believed to be entirely dry, it seems as new evidence has pivoted NASA to launch a new program to construct a permeant moon base for one straightforward reason: The collection of Water.
So if NASA went to the moon in the late 1960s. How did they miss the “hundreds of billions of tons of ice”?
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