NASA has published the “National Space Exploration Campaign Report,” which they promised the Congress last year, and it’s finally here to show us a map for what will become of the American space exploration until the 2030s. The report doesn’t come with many details, but it shows their intentions for the next decade.
Among their many plans, there’s the Lunar Gateway – a space station that will be around the moon. The document contains 21 pages, and it mentions the Gateway 26 times, describing it as a “lunar orbiting platform to host astronauts farther from Earth than ever before and forge U.S. leadership and presence in the region between the Moon and Earth.”
The head of the National Space Council, Vice President Pence, support the Gateway, and so does the NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who stated the following:
“There’s no other architecture that I’ve been presented with, given the current budgets we have, that enables all of what we want to do. And so I came to the conclusion that the Gateway is the right approach.”
The report mentions that the Gateway will be used for various missions. It will be used to transit deep space, help validate new technologies for an infrastructure they plan to build on the surface of the Moon, and even “prepare for the epochal journey to Mars,” says the report.
The Gateway will also be a lab to host “biological and biomedical studies” in deep space environment in long periods.
NASA also planned to use the gateway as a platform where payloads and systems will be assembled for “human and scientific exploration that leverages its unique vantage point in deep space.”
It will also serve as a station for creating refueling depots; it will be a servicing platform and a sample return facility.
The report doesn’t say when or how the Gateway will arrive, but it will be built in space with materials carried by the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and commercial vehicles.
Other decisions are said to be assessed in a “post-2024” section as the Gateway evolves. The report shows no information on international partners either.
As for the Mars trips, there are few details – the report even describes the landing as being “audacious in its complexity.” The trip will follow several robot missions, and then says there will be “an eventual series of crewed Mars missions planned to start in the 2030’s and culminating in a surface landing.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.