digest | NASA’s Next Giant Leap: the future of space exploration

To the moon and beyond.
July 20, 2019


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image | above
Artist drawing of NASA’s new rocket called the space launch system.


— in this post —

~ story
~ pages
~ facts
~ featurette
~ learning
~ reading


— story —

NASA has been discussing concepts for moon exploration by humans since its Apollo lunar mission flights ended in year 1972. The moon captures the imagination of space scientists around the world. The name “Apollo”  is at the top of all search queries on NASA’s public website.

NASA has sent more than 500 Apollo lunar rock samples to scientists for ongoing analysis. Each year a handful of new research papers offer insights + updates to what we’ve learned about the moon from these samples. The lunar program has become a cultural benchmark — and a key point in science history.

In the half-century since astronauts landed on the moon, NASA has continued to push the boundaries of knowledge to deliver on the promise of human ingenuity and leadership in space. NASA plans to move forward with lunar exploration by landing astronauts on the moon’s south pole by year 2024.

NASA is implementing the goal:  “to lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across our solar system.”

— back to the moon —

Currently, NASA is making progress with its plans to commercialize low-Earth orbit. These tests, experiences, and partnerships will enable NASA to go back to the moon — this time to stay — with the United States leading a coalition of nations and industry.

The Artemis program is an ongoing crewed spaceflight program by: NASA, United States commercial spaceflight companies, and international partners such as the European Space Agency — with the goal of landing “the first woman and the next man” on the lunar south pole by year 2024.

So the Artemis program is the first step for the next era of human exploration. NASA plans to establish a sustainable human post on Earth’s moon — with a long range goal of sending humans to planet Mars in new spacecraft.

NASA’s lunar exploration plan has 3 phases:

  • phase one — is focused on speed: landing on the moon by year 2024
  • phase two —  will establish a sustained human presence: on + around the moon by year 2028
  • phase three — will use what we learn on the moon: to send astronauts to Mars + beyond


image | above
A watercolor painting of Earth’s moon.

art: by Natural Art Guides


the MOON
name Luna
type natural satellite
location moon of Earth
size 0.012 times the mass of Earth
average surface temperature — 53.2° C  |  — 63.7° F
orbital speed 3,682 kilometers per hour  |  2,288 miles per hour
day length 27 day  •  7 hours  •  43 minutes


— NASA’s moon to Mars project —


Commercial re-Supply Program • by NASA

This ambitious program enables United States companies to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS) with cargo. The key accomplishments of these public-private partnerships:

  • restoring the United States to deliver + return ISS cargo without relying on foreign providers
  • opening NASA flight facilities to commercial partners
  • making the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia the newest spaceport capable of launching to ISS
  • increasing the use of hosted payloads by commercial + research groups
  • increasing the deployment of CubeSats by commercial + research groups

Commercial Crew Program • by NASA

  • this program will return spaceflight launches to United States soil
  • providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit + the International Space Station

Space Launch System • by NASA

  • this is NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration
  • will be the biggest rocket ever built
  • it’s a super heavy-lift expendable launch vehicle under development
  • it’s the primary launch vehicle of NASA’s deep space exploration plans
  • essential for planned: crewed lunar flights of the Artemis program
  • essential for planned: human mission to Mars

Orion Spacecraft • by NASA

  • NASA’s new next-generation human space capsule
  • this spacecraft is built to take astronauts farther than ever before
  • will be the exploration vehicle carrying the crew to space
  • has emergency abort capability
  • will sustains the crew during space travel
  • provides safe re-entry from deep space return velocities
  • designed to launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket: the Space Launch System

Gateway Lunar Command Module • by NASA

  • with its partners, NASA is building the Gateway lunar command module to orbit the moon
  • the module is a staging point for missions to explore the lunar surface
  • it’s a small spaceship in moon orbit for: astronauts, science, tech demonstrations
  • located 250,000 miles from Earth, the module has access to the entire lunar surface
  • sustainable human space exploration requires tech that’s efficient, affordable, reliable
  • solar electric propulsion has these benefits + is a key tech for the module
  • the module’s propulsion is powered by 50 kilowatt solar electric propulsion
  • that’s 3 times more powerful than current capabilities
  • this alternative propulsion system: will enrich exploration at the moon
  • this alternative propulsion system: enables orbit transfers + re-usable space tugs to / from the lunar surface


image | above
Sketch of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft.


on the web | pages

NASA | home
NASA | special: Moon to Mars

NASA | CubeSats
NASA | International Space Station
NASA | Wallops Flight Facility

NASA | Commercial re-Supply Program
NASA | Commercial Crew Program
NASA | Space Launch System
NASA | Orion spacecraft
NASA | Artemis program

ESA | home
ESA |


— featurette —

featurette | watch

featurette title: We’re going to the moon to stay by year 2024: here’s how.
from: NASA
project: Moon to Mars
host: William Shatner



image | above
A watercolor painting of Mars.

art: by Natural Art Guides


planet  MARS
name Mars
type terrestrial planet
location 4th planet from the sun
size 0.107 times the mass of Earth
average surface temperature — 63° C  |  — 81° F
orbital period 1.9 Earth years
day length 1 day  •  0 hours  •  37 minutes
number of moons 2

— foundations for Mars —

Moon research + development will bring new knowledge and opportunities. NASA’s moon program is laying the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of the planet Mars.

The moon will provide a proving ground to test tech and resources that will transport people, cargo, and materials to Mars and beyond — including building sustainable, re-usable architecture.

To return to the moon, NASA is building on the research of 1,000s of people who worked on the original Apollo lunar missions — and have since continued to advance human spaceflight.

NASA’s current moon program is preparing humanity for the next giant leap: missions to planet Mars and other deep-space destinations.



on the web | learning

NewsHour • PBS | How NASA is preparing to launch another mission to the moon
video: watch

Wired | Scientist Explains: how moon mining would work
video: watch

Univ. of New South Wales | Mining on the Moon
video: watch


on the web | reading

Global News • Global Television Network | Orion: the path to Mars
deck: in photos • from Apollo to Orion: the evolution of a spaceship


IMAGE


— notes —

PBS = Public Broadcasting Service

NASA = National Aeronautics + Space Admin. • United States
ESA = European Space Agency • Europe
SLS = Space Launch System
ISS = International Space Station


[ story file ]

story title: NASA’s Next Giant Leap: the future of lunar exploration
deck: To the moon and beyond.
year: 2019
section: digest

[ end of file ]