NASA wants to land on the Moon, after cancelling their rover program
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Apr 30, 2018,
Apr 30, 2018, 1:14
Building on the findings of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) missions that proved the existence of water on the Moon, Resource Prospector planned to take the next step and harvest resources.
The deposits that were to be mined by the rover would have "extremely important exploration implications, as they could be viable resources to support not only human exploration into the solar system but also a thriving lunar economy", said the letter to Bridenstine from Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, which helps analyze scientific, technical, commercial and operational lunar mission issues. Metzger said he's not sure why the mission was shelved. "More landers. More science".
What happens to the Lunar Resource Prospector? "RP was the only polar lander-rover mission under development by NASA. and would have been ready for preliminary design review at the beginning of 2019". He suggested that the closure of the Resource Prospector is due to the fact that the project is incompatible with the budget and priorities of this Department. This prompted an outcry from lunar scientists with the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group who have cheered on the Trump administration's proposed return to the Moon.
"This action is viewed with both incredulity and dismay by our community", particularly because Trump's space policy "directs NASA to go to the lunar surface", the letter said. "The political environment, I'll just say, was not as conducive as it is now to going to the moon", said Anthony Colaprete, Resource Prospector project scientist, in a presentation at the LEAG annual meeting last October. It was moved into the science program, but its goals don't really fit that directorate. "We're just waiting to see where it falls out, organizationally speaking".
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NASA said Friday that it would be putting out a statement about the project. A 2022 launch, they wrote, would demonstrate NASA's ability to react quickly to changes in space policy, preempt robotic missions being developed by other nations and pave the way for commercial activities on the moon.
Bridenstine said in a tweet: "We're committed to lunar exploration @NASA" with "more commercial partners". Richards, though, noted his company has a modular approach that will allow it to carry heavier payloads to the surface in the future.
Resource Prospector was created to be the first step in making use of valuable compounds buried within the Moon's rock, or regolith.