NASA is aiming to launch a rocket packed with several tons of supplies to the moon as early as February, marking a milestone for the space agency 50 years after men landed on the moon. The rocket is expected to lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carried by the huge new Vulcan rocket under development by Orbital ATK, which will be a partnership between ATK and Blue Origin. This is the first lunar space launch NASA has tried since Endeavour carried cargo to the moon in 2012.
Those who favor an ambitious plan to help land humans on the moon again see the long-awaited spaceflight as a fresh opportunity to set up another mission in the vicinity of the moon’s surface, as well as to send robotic scouts for rovers or telescopes. Others believe a lunar mission would simply have been impossible before commercial companies, led by SpaceX and Blue Origin, joined the field and created affordable spaceships that could go there. For some that’s as good as it gets. The space program needs a repeat of Apollo. But Boeing, which is one of the companies developing a lunar lander under the NASA Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, disagreed, pointing out that the planned mission also needs to secure global support for its role in space exploration.
For now the question still seems to be whether or not the lunar landing plans will actually get off the ground, and after two attempts, the question will remain unanswered in January. Then NASA hopes to put the location of the lunar landing in play with two more pressurized spacecraft, demonstrating the capability for a crew to live there. NASA hopes to launch the first one of these craft in 2021.
Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.
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