February 20, 2017

"NASA appears to be taking Donald Trump’s 'Make America Great Again' slogan seriously, pondering a repeat of a past triumph — circling astronauts on a test flight around the moon."

buzzfeed: Without a new administrator even nominated yet, NASA’s acting head Robert Lightfoot on Wednesday requested a study of whether next year’s first flight of the Space Launch System rocket, billed as the most powerful NASA has built, could have a crew of astronauts. by Dan Vergano

'“I know the challenges associated with such a proposition,” Lightfoot said in a letter to his agency, citing costs, extra work, and “a different launch date” for the planned 2018 Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). The mission would be launched by the massive SLS, which is still in development, then boosted by a European service module to put three astronauts inside the new Orion space capsule on a three-week trip around the moon.

'NASA first sent three astronauts around the moon in 1968 in the Apollo 8 mission. The last astronaut to stand on the moon, the late Gene Cernan (who died last month) returned to Earth in 1972. The new talk of a repeat moon-circling mission, aboard an untested spacecraft, has space policy experts variously thrilled, dismissive, and puzzled.'

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