NASA considers outpost beyond moon’s far side
NASA is pressing forward on assessing the value of a "human-tended waypoint" near the far side of the moon ― one that would embrace international partnerships as well as commercial and academic participation, Space.com reported Monday.
The website reported that a team is being formed to develop a cohesive plan for exploring a spot in space known as the Earth-moon libration point 2 (EML-2). The information has come from the Feb. 3 memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator of the team for human exploration and operations.
Libration points, also known as Lagrangian points, are places in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other out, allowing spacecraft to essentially "park" there, it said.
A pre-memo NASA appraisal of EML-2, which is near the lunar far side, has spotlighted this destination as the "leading option" for a near-term exploration capability.
EML-2 could serve as a gateway for capability-driven exploration of multiple destinations, such as near-lunar space, asteroids, the moon, the moons of Mars and ultimately Mars itself, according to NASA officials.
A capabilities-driven NASA architecture is one that should use the agency's planned heavy-lift rocket, known as the Space Launch System, and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle "as the foundational elements."
The memo also spells out six strategic principles to help enable exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.