Moo With Me

Ken AshfordScience & TechnologyLeave a Comment

Cow_moonNASA plans permanent moon base:

NASA announced plans Monday to begin building a permanent base on the moon by 2024, four years after the space agency starts sending crews of four astronauts there for weeklong exploratory missions.

The base would probably be located near the lunar south pole and be staffed by rotating teams of international astronauts for up to six months at a time, according to NASA officials.

The teams will be equipped for extended travel across the cratered lunar surface and will start preparing the base as a way station for an eventual human mission to Mars, the officials said.

No price tag has yet been set for the lunar venture, but the space agency’s lunar exploration chief conceded that participation by other space-faring nations as well as U.S. industries will be critical for success of the costly, risky and technically demanding effort.

Deputy NASA Administrator Shana Dale, who led a news briefing at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said the agency will send a series of manned spacecraft starting in 2014 to orbit both polar regions of the moon and scout out possible landing sites in search of evidence of natural resources and potential hazards to exploring lunar vehicles.

The first astronaut teams, she said, would land in 2020 — as President Bush has proclaimed — and start building the permanent base from which the international teams could explore the lunar surface for miles around aboard mobile solar-powered craft in preparation for the Mars mission Bush has also envisioned. No target date has been set for any human mission to Mars, where the robot spacecraft Opportunity and Spirit are still exploring the surface nearly four years after they landed there on what was scheduled as a three-month mission.

Hey, I like the 60’s as much as anybody, but (1) getting involved in a quagmire war where we shouldn’t be, and (2) missions to the moon?

Been there, done that.