It seems that with Obama's re-election, NASA have found some reassurance that their plans (which were secret so far in case Romney gets elected) will continue to get a presidential thumbs up.
The "secret" plans in question involve going back to the moon, building a permanent base on the far side, parking cool spacecraft in the L2 point and testing out a new heavy duty rocket, with more exciting stuff yet to be announced.
Well... this is fucking cool!
John Logsdon, chief space policy expert:
“NASA has been evolving its thinking, and its latest charts have inserted a new element of cislunar/lunar gateway/Earth-moon L2 sort of stuff into the plan ”
The L2 lagrangian point is a an orbital location around the moon where the Earth's and Moon's gravitational pulls cancel each other out, so spacecraft and space stations can sort of chill there almost indefinitely without having to actively maintain an orbit. The plan is to eventually set up a manned, permanent base on the far side of the Moon that would serve as a jumping-off point for future interplanetary explorations (yes, and that include's NASA's plan to land on Mars in the 2030's). The plans include the development of a massive new launch rocket to deliver more ponderous payloads into space and help speed up future exploration.
NASA deputy chief Lori Graver:
"We just recently delivered a comprehensive report to Congress outlining our destinations which makes clear that SLS will go way beyond low-Earth orbit to explore the expansive space around the Earth-moon system, near-Earth asteroids, the moon, and ultimately, Mars. Let me say that again: We’re going back to the moon, attempting a first-ever mission to send humans to an asteroid and actively developing a plan to take Americans to Mars.”
|Astronauts can chill in lunar orbit and more actively direct exploration rovers|
So far the big focus is putting a spacecraft in the L2 point and experimenting with remote control as well the challenges of supporting human life in deep space.
"Let me say that again: We're going back to the moon, attempting a first-ever mission to send humans to an asteroid and actively developing a plan to take Americans to Mars," Garver added.