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NASA Plans To Built A Moon-Orbiting Spaceport As The Next Step Towards Sending Humans To Mars


NASA about to take the next step towards fulfilling its dream of sending humans to the surface of the red planet. The agency plans to build a spaceport that would be placed in lunar orbit to facilitate future deep space missions. It will act as a gateway to the lunar surface and other destinations inside the solar system such as Mars.

NASA's model of the planned lunar orbiting spaceport

It also offers a true deep space environment for scientific researches, mainly for the study of problems that the human body might encounter during long-duration deep space missions. "This gateway will give us the experience required to push farther into the solar system", say NASA scientists.

However, making such habitat has many challenges, one among them is that returning to Earth in case of an emergency would take weeks. NASA is presently working on new plans that could possibly cut this time required to a few days rather than weeks.

"Initial preparations for the gateway will start with the first integrated mission of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft", revealed NASA.

The spaceport is currently planned to have a power bus, a small habitat, docking capabilities, an airlock and a few logistic modules. The propulsion system uses high-power electric propulsion for station keeping and to transfer among a family of orbits in the lunar vicinity.At present, the International Space Station (ISS) is the only permanently inhabited human base in space

The three primary elements of the gateway: the power and propulsion bus, habitat module, and the logistic modules will be launched by taking advantage of the cargo capacity of SLS and the deep space capabilities of Orion. An airlock will also fly with a subsequent exploration mission.

"The gateway could move to support robotic or partner missions on the surface of the moon or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system", said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Administration at NASA.

The second phase of the mission will mainly confirm the agency's capabilities for conducting long-duration deep space missions beyond the moon involving humans.

NASA also envisions a deep space transport spacecraft for its future crewed missions to farther destinations in the solar system such as Mars. It would be a reusable vehicle utilizing electric and chemical propulsion.

The spacecraft will carry the crew to their destination and will return them back to the gateway, where it would be serviced for being used for future missions.

Read more about the past, present and future of humanity's exploration of space, take a look at our new book, 'The Worlds Unknown'

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