Feeds

NASA plans manned Deep Space Moon outpost

Agency investigates way station for astronauts

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

NASA is looking at the possibility of parking a manned outpost beside the Moon as a way station for astronauts on their way to deep space missions.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine

The way station probably won't look anything like this.

According to a memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, cited by Space.com, the agency is putting together a team to assess the possibilities of a potential location on the far side of the Moon known as Earth-Moon libration point 2 (EML-2).

Libration, or Lagrangian, points are parking spots in space where a small object is equally affected by the gravitational pull of two large masses, which cancel each other out, holding the craft in place.

The agency is looking at using the heavy-lift rocket Space Launch System and the Orion crewship as "the foundational elements" for the stationary craft.

A craft at EML-2 could allow exploration and experimentation on near-lunar space, asteroids and the Moon, as well as being a stop-off point for missions to Mars and Martian moons.

The waystation would also see astronauts travelling the farthest into space they've been so far.

A NASA Lunar Science Institute's LUNAR Centre white paper pointed out that "an EML-2 mission would have astronauts traveling 15 per cent farther from Earth than did the Apollo astronauts, and spending almost three times longer in deep space".

"This is extremely exciting from both the exploration and science sides," Jack Burns, director of LUNAR (Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research) said. "This mission concept seems to be really taking off now because it is unique and offers the prospects of doing something significant outside of low-Earth orbit within this decade."

Burns and his team have been working with Lockheed Martin for more than a year to plan an Orion mission that would go into a halo orbit of the EML-2.

Gerstenmaier's memo pointed out that EML-2 "is a complex region of cis-lunar space that has certain advantages as an initial staging point for exploration, but may also have some disadvantages that must be well understood".

A NASA team has been picked out to look at some near-term missions to EML-2 "as we continue to refine our understanding and the implications of using this waypoint as part of the broader exploration capability development".

The team is due to complete its study by the end of March. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.