Monday, March 06, 2017

TRUMP AGENDA - Human Moon Missions

Assuming you trust Trump to keep his word.

"Human moon missions could be on the horizon under Trump" PBS NewsHour 3/1/2017


SUMMARY:  Is there renewed focus inside the Trump administration, NASA and the private sector to revive travel to the moon?  There are signs, like a single reference in President Trump's address to Congress, that seem to suggest that a space journey may be sooner than we might think.  Science correspondent Miles O'Brien joins Judy Woodruff to discuss what we could learn and why it's back on the table.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And now to our Leading Edge segment for this week, a potential return to the moon.

Near the end of his address last night, the President made a reference to space travel, saying — quote — “American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.”

It was only a line.  But whenever a President speaks on the subject, the space community is closely trying to read the tea leaves.  The sentence leaves a lot to interpretation, but all signs seem to indicate there is renewed focus inside the Trump administration, NASA, and the private sector, on travel to the moon, sooner than you might think.

Our science correspondent, Miles O'Brien, is here.

So, Miles, why the moon after all these years?

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  Aside from the “because it's there” answer, it's actually a good destination to go and learn about living and working on an encampment in space.

You know, we went to the moon 50 years ago now.  We left some footprints and flags behind, but we didn't really learn how to live there on a sustained basis.  So, while NASA would still like to go to Mars, there's a lot of things you can learn about by setting up an encampment on the moon.

And we have learned in the past 50 years there's a lot of water ice on the moon.  What is water?  Hydrogen and oxygen.  What is rocket fuel?  Hydrogen and oxygen.  So you can learn a lot about how to create rocket fuel on location and perhaps push deeper into space.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So this didn't just spring up as an idea because they couldn't think of anything else?

MILES O'BRIEN:  Well, there was one other factor.  There was a mission planned at the end of '18 for the Space Launch System, which is the next heavy lift that NASA is working — heavy lift rocket.

One piece of it wasn't going to be ready, built by the Europeans, a service module.  And so NASA was faced with the possibility of delaying that mission, an unmanned mission, even later, or maybe doing something like we did with Apollo 8, something bold.

In the case of Apollo 8, the lunar module wasn't ready.  And we decided to go around the moon.  In this case, they're thinking about putting astronauts on this flight maybe early '19, and send them around the moon Apollo 8-style.

So, a lot of things have lined up.  And, all of a sudden, there is wide agreement in the space community, this might be the next step.

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