STATES CHRONICLE – After killing NASA’s asteroid redirect mission for being a waste of time and resources, Congress said that another mission to the moon would be more feasible and sustainable than a Mars mission.
In past hearings, congressmen from both parties had suggested that NASA should prepare to get back to the moon and even team up with Europe for that purpose. But last month, lawmakers refused to allocate any funding to a Mars mission and forced the space agency to focus on a lunar mission instead.
Nevertheless, Congress wants to turn the endeavor into something more than just a sample return mission. It wants rovers, habitation modules, and ascent vehicles on the Moon just like the Obama administration has planned them for a mission to the Red Planet.
President Obama bared NASA from planning any more missions to the moon six years ago. The White House wanted the space agency to land a craft on a moving asteroid by 2025, and reach Mars after 2030.
Obama’s argument to halt new lunar missions was: “We’ve been there before.” But that was not enough to convince Congress to stay away from our natural satellite.
Analysts believe that because Obama’s days in office are numbered Congress members take into account the possibility of a new president not very keen on spending so much money on a Mars mission.
Plus, there are three strong arguments to back a new mission to the Moon. First, nearly all of NASA’s foreign partners are for a Moon-then-Mars plan. Plus, while the U.S. will get busy with a Mars mission, China or Russia may have the opportunity to build a colony on the Moon.
Second, other missions to the moon may help the aerospace industry have access to new business opportunities. The industry is not very enthusiastic about a Mars mission because it is both resource-consuming and not fail-proof.
Additionally, space mining is a nascent industry. So, the best way to start would be the Moon since Mars is too distant, and it could take decades before a manned mission successfully reaches the it.
Moon could also be used as a refueling point as space miners could extract hydrogen and oxygen from its poles on their journey to Mars.
Still the fate of the Mars mission ultimately lies in the hands of who will be elected president. Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, however, is not in the mission to Mars camp, while Hillary Clinton hasn’t expressed an opinion on the issue yet.
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