Missions to the moon and beyond are finally advancing! Initial NASA plans didn't call for launching crew on an Apollo-8 type mission until 2021, but now that the Space Launch System (SLS) has been approved, both NASA and Lockheed Martin are pushing to return to the moon sooner--possibly much sooner, and going beyond the moon to deep space as well.
Here is a new PDF by NASA on SLS.
NASA is now looking at advancing an unmanned test flight to 2017 and a manned mission to 2019.
Lockheed Martin (LM), the developer of the Orion/MPCV spacecraft, challenges us to do better; they are proposing a 2017 manned Apollo 8 type mission to the moon or an upgrade/reboost mission to Hubble! They also are proposing a 2018 lunar far-side mission, a 2019 asteroid mission, and much more! Take a look at their Stepping Stones brochure:
- If you've heard SLS is a mission to nowhere, here's many missions to real and exciting places!
- If you've heard SLS is a billion dollar crew launch vehicle for ISS, here's what SLS is really being built for!
- If you've heard SLS would just be used for a couple launches and abandoned, take a look at just some of the many exciting missions we can do with it!
- If you've heard there are cheaper, faster alternatives to SLS, remember the engineering to make them work may cost billions more and add yet another decade's delay. SLS is therefore the real "cheaper, faster" rocket to take us to the moon and Mars.
- If you've heard SLS is too large, consider its largest version is only a little larger than Saturn V (130 vs. 118 metric tons), which could only transport a capsule, 3 astronauts and a lander to the moon.
At present LM's concepts are just that--unfunded concepts, though completely technically possible, and they only involve what could be done absent a lander; so they don't show anyone landing on the moon or Mars. The sooner we push to get Congressional support to build the lander and habitats, the sooner companies like LM can draw up plans to establish a base on the moon and then land on Mars! We must push for beginning to establish a base on the moon in this decade, and to land on Mars within the 2020's.
What we are seeing is now that we have a heavy lift rocket under way which is capable of real deep space exploration, America's best and brightest engineers feel a bit 'unleashed' and can finally plan real missions and figure out how to go there sooner than originally planned.
That is where you and me come into the picture; for America's future in space will be our future only if we push Congress, the Administration and candidates to continue and increase support for the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion/MPCV capsule, the Altair lander, habitats; and for real, exciting missions to the moon, Mars and beyond!
US Congress: 202-224-3121
White House: 202-456-1111
Email/Fax Congress: www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm
Email the President: www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Links for 2012 Presidential Candidates: wikipedia.org/...presidential_election,_2012