NASA Considers Orbital Outpost Near Moon
Top NASA officials have picked a leading candidate for the agency’s next major mission: construction of an outpost that would send astronauts farther from Earth than they’ve ever been.
The “gateway spacecraft” would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon, support a small crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars.
At 277,000 miles from Earth, the outpost would be far more remote than the current space station, which orbits a little more than 200 miles above Earth. The distance raises complex questions of how to protect astronauts from the radiation of deep space - and rescue them if something goes wrong.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden briefed the White House earlier this month on details of the proposal, but it was unclear whether it had the administration’s support. Of critical importance is the cost, which would probably be billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars.
Documents obtained by The Orlando Sentinel show that NASA wants to build a small outpost — likely with parts left over from the $100-billion International Space Station — at what’s known as the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2, a spot about 38,000 miles from the moon.