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NASA Moon Outpost

February 13, 2012 by staff 

NASA Moon Outpost, NASA is pushing for a plan to establish “human-tended waypoint” near the far side of the moon — one that would embrace international partnerships as well as commercial and academic participation, SPACE.com reported Friday.

A team is being formed to develop a cohesive plan for exploring a spot in space known as the Earth-moon libration point 2 (EML-2), website reported, citing a Feb. 3 memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations.

Libration points, also known as Lagrangian points, are places in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other out, allowing spacecraft to essentially “park” there.

EML-2, near the side of the moon, could serve as a gateway for capability-driven exploration of multiple destinations, such as near-lunar space, asteroids, the moon, the moons of Mars and, ultimately, Mars itself, according to NASA officials.

An EML-2 waypoint allegedly could enable telerobotic science on the lunar far side to serve as a platform for solar and Earth scientific observation, radio astronomy and other science in the quiet zone behind the moon.

The Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) Center at the University of Colorado have been collaborating with Lockheed Martin for more than a year to plan an early Orion mission that would go into a halo orbit of EML-2 above the lunar far side.

It is investigating human missions to EML-2 that could be a proving ground for future missions to deep space.

Researchers point out in a LUNAR Center white paper that an EML-2 mission would have astronauts traveling 15 percent farther from Earth than did the Apollo astronauts, and spending almost three times longer in deep space.

Should the EML-2 waypoint be established, it would be the farthest humans have traveled from Earth to date.

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