Monday, December 04, 2006

NASA's New Plan: Moon Base in 2024

At the Space Exploration Conference in Houston, NASA unveiled the plans for it next major goal: an inhabited, permanent base on the Moon by 2024. The base may be at the north or south pole and will be supported by the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) now in development.

COMMENT: In a way, this is what Apollo should have been. If we were going to put in the money and accept the risk to land humans on the Moon, we should have aimed for a permanent base, where science, resource extraction, and other activities could be carried out. NASA did not lack for ambition in those days, but found it impossible to get the funding required. Now the big question is whether we will commit the money to get this new vision turned into hardware. NASA today takes about 0.7% of the federal budget. Executing the new Vision for Space Exploration will require a steady increase, but not a large one, to 1% or a bit more. It's not small potatoes, but it's not beyond our reach.

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