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NASA wants to begin designing landing gear to bring people to the moon



After more than a year of talking about returning people to the moon, NASA is asking the aerospace community to come up with designs for passengers who can transport astronauts to the lunar surface. The purpose of NASA is to test these cars on the Moon in 2024, and then use them to take people to the surface of the Moon by 2028.

NASA's Administrator Jim Bridgestin and other top-ranking agencies outlined the plan during a roundtable for media today in Washington, DC. Although Bridzenston thought that NASA was returning to the moon to stay this time, he also noted that the agency was making speed a priority in returning to the lunar surface. "One of the things I think is important again, we want this opportunity to be reused, we want that sustainability, but we also want to go fast," Bridenstine said during the conversation. "It's important that we return to the moon as soon as possible."

In December 201

7, President Trump signed the directive, known as SPD-1, which forced NASA to return people to the Moon, in order to achieve this goal gradually. Now NASA wants to get gas.

This desire for speed is reflected in how quickly the agency plans to make a choice of designs of the gateway. NASA will make a formal request to companies on land plotter proposals in March to award and secure contracts in May-July. Each individual contract will cost from 300,000 to 9 million dollars. Bridenstine said NASA is open to both commercial companies (like Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, Spacex, and Boeing) and international agencies sending ideas.


All NASA vessels will want to use to go back to the Moon. Meanwhile, NASA is trying to accelerate another program aimed at sending small robotic devices to the moon, known as the "Commercial Monthly Load Service" (CLPS). This program, detailed in November, has set up nine of the company's development of miniature autonomous landing gear that can carry scientific load on the moon. Thanks to this program, NASA will release information on the tools it wants to send to the Moon, and nine companies will compete for the transportation of this equipment with their passengers. NASA plans to release details of the first batch of 12 tools next week. Some of them will include images and other scientific instruments as well as tools for finding the Moon to look for things like water ice on the surface.

Future NASA researchers could use water on the Moon's surface to drink and grow vegetation, or they could break it to make rocket fuel. Because these capabilities are so critical, NASA wants the CLPS program to start working as quickly as possible, with the hope that one company might take a load on the moon by the end of 2019. "We told everyone in our catalog that we will speed up financially," said Thomas Tsurbuhan, a native of the administration of NASA's Science Directorate at the conference.

Despite this newly emerging need for speed, NASA slowly outlined the overall strategy of returning the Moon. Over the past few years, the agency has outlined a multi-purpose strategy for bringing people to the lunar surface. The plan involves the construction of a new space station in the orbit of the Moon called Gateway. This station should last 15 years in space, and it will serve as a place of residence where astronauts could live and train. From the gateway, astronauts will ride across the ground to the ground where they could explore and take samples before going back to the station.

NASA expects that it will need a number of spacecraft to drive people to and from the gate. They include a spacecraft for moving from the station to the lower orbit of the moon, a vehicle that descends to the surface itself, and one to rotate people to the gate. NASA says it is open to other ways of attracting people to the lunar surface. One of the most important options is the upcoming SpaceX missile, which, when it is completed, can potentially launch Earth and people directly from the surface of the Moon, bypassing the Gateway together. Nevertheless, NASA says that so far, it is simply looking for constructions for the reloading devices referred to in the latest request.


Artistic rendering of the human lunar device that wants to develop Lockheed Martin
Image: Lockheed Martin

Even with all this focus on speed, the current schedule does not see people returning to the moon for almost ten years. This term was criticized, especially by the country's largest space advisers. Members of the Consultative Group of the Council of the National Space Council, which advises government officials and legislators on how to determine the agenda for space policy, argued that NASA is moving too slowly and that 2028 is too far.

Part of the delay is due to the fact that most of the return architecture of the moon relies on two NASA cars that are stuck in development over the last decade: a massive missile called the launch space system and a capsule called Orion. NASA plans to use these vehicles to build parts of the gateway and transport people to a new station. However, the SLS has not yet deployed – the first demonstration mission scheduled for 2020 – and both programs suffered numerous failures and delays in scheduling, making the future chronology of the gateway uncertain.

However, some positive advances have been made in the development of the gateway. NASA has received project proposals from the private industry for the first element in the gateway, a module that provides power to the station and fills the car through space. William Gerstenmeier, the administrator of NASA's Space Flight Program, said NASA will decide who will be able to build this module very soon. In addition, numerous private companies are developing deep space space modules through the NASA NexSTEP program, which can be used to accommodate NASA's astronauts in the gateway. "There is a genuine work that moves forward to the gateway," said Gerstenmeier.

Slowly but surely, this plan is coming together, although NASA is trying to do it a bit faster.


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