|The last time we were on the moon. Image courtesy of NASA|
Either way, NASA is now seeking partners in designing, developing, and sending reliable, cost-effective, commercial robotic lunar landers that will be able to drop payloads on the lunar surface. With these new landers and robots, we could be getting ready for commercial lunar activity, along with science and exploration missions on our nearest neighbor.
NASA states in their news release: "As NASA pursues an ambitious plan for humans to explore an asteroid and Mars, U.S. industry will create opportunities for NASA to advance new technologies on the moon," said Greg Williams, NASA's deputy associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "Our strategic investments in the innovations of our commercial partners have brought about successful commercial resupply of the International Space Station, to be followed in the coming years by commercial crew. Lunar CATALYST will help us advance our goals to reach farther destinations."
So, which of the new commercial space industry companies will step up to the challenge? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, my friends at Universe Today tell me that Frank Culbertson, VP of Orbital Sciences (who recently successfully docked with the ISS with their Cygnus cargo delivery system) calls for an extension of the International Space Station to 2050 and using the massive station as a stepping stone to human deep space exploration.
Things are looking up. Congress even provides for budget increases (small but there) for NASA. Wonders upon wonders!
For more, see: http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/january/nasa-announces-partnership-opportunities-for-us-commercial-lunar-lander/#.UtkaWJ6wI7s
For the Cygnus arrival at the ISS post, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2014/01/more-good-news-for-and-from.html